St. Patrick’s Day is only a few weeks away, and we’re celebrating with one of our favorite seasonal breads — Irish Soda Bread! We make ours with buttermilk and baking powder for a delicious not-too-sweet flavor. Add in golden raisins and caraway seeds (we have loaves without seeds, too!) for a classic Irish treat.
A few years ago (where does the time go!) we created a fun dessert display for the holiday, and the fun decorations would still work for an event today. Don’t miss the printable labels.
For this year, we did a fun facebook/instagram live with our 2020 cookies and products. You can watch the replay here:
We discussed this a little in the video, but we wanted to share the history of Irish Soda Bread. Maybe you’ll love it even more!
How It Started
First of all, the Irish didn’t invent this bread (!!!!!). I know — I was just as surprised as you are. The first people to use “soda” in their breads were the Native Americans who use Pearl Ash. This is actual ash from burnt wood and plants. When combined with an acidic liquid, the soda reacted like yeast.
For most of history, soda bread was actually made with sour milk to give the acidic component. This made the bread even less expensive because the bakers could use something they would need to throw away.
Don’t worry — now everyone (or almost everyone, you never know) uses buttermilk instead.
The earliest recipe for Soda Bread in Ireland was published in 1836, and unfortunately became popular because of famine and poverty. The wheat was a softer, lighter wheat, and the other ingredients — at the time, primarily only flour, salt, baking soda, and sour milk — could be found easily. The bread is hearty and filling.
If you’re Irish and want to get in touch with your Irish roots this St. Patrick’s Day, you can learn more about Irish Soda Bread over on the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. They are pretty strict about only using four ingredients in a “traditional recipe,” but we think ours is perfectly festive for the holiday.