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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Caraway Soda Bread

This bread was baked for a potluck at work for St. Patrick's Day. I got the recipe here, and the writer, Elise, is right on when she says that the bread is 'so darn easy'. On a side note, I have been following Simple Recipes for a while now and am always excited when it features a vegetarian recipe. I've tried a few of them and they have all turned out quite well.

Because this bread should be eaten soon after baking, while warm if possible, I decided to bake this early in the morning before work. That would never have been possible with a yeast bread (agreed they taste best when properly cooled).

The dough
This bread uses all purpose flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, caraway seeds, butter and buttermilk. Butter is not a standard ingredient in Irish soda breads, but it helps make the bread very moist (cake-like, as some colleagues said). I would like to try to reduce the quantity of butter to see how it affects the taste/ texture.

I made 1.5 times the recipes in order to have enough bread for the potluck. I also had to soften the butter in the microwave as I didn't have the time to let it soften at room temperature. I ended up melting the butter.

Ingredients: Flour with salt, baking soda and caraway seeds mixed in.

The softened butter is mixed into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and then the buttermilk is added in.

After all the ingredients are mixed in

After a little more mixing / kneading


In the 450° F oven

After the specified 40 minutes, the bottom of the bread sounded hollow when thumped and it registered an internal temperature of over 200°. But I wanted to make certain it had cooked well inside (given the larger quantity of dough), so I let it sit in the (turned-off) oven for another 10 minutes.

One slash was deeper than the other

Unfortunately I don't have a crumb shot because the bread was cut at work. I read elsewhere that soda breads are supposed to be sliced thin. This one would not have been easy to slice thin. It tasted soft and moist, the caraway seeds were definitely a good idea. I got compliments from several colleagues.

Date: Mar 16, 2011
Recipe: Caraway Soda Bread from Simple Recipes

Flours: All purpose flour
Bread specific ingredients: Baking soda, caraway seeds
Sweetener used: Sugar
Liquid: Buttermilk

First rise: No rising
It's a great recipe but unfortunately not whole grain at all. I will try to find a good balance of whole wheat and all purpose flour. Also, it would be nice to be able to use less butter. Caraway seeds were wonderful.



  1. I've been making some soda bread myself and I caught a segment on NPR comparing soda breads and they had a guy who advocates for traditional soda bread commenting on them. He's got a website with really traditional recipes here:


    One in particular might be up your alley, "Brown bread." 75% of the white flour is replaced with wheat, and there's no butter (butter is not traditionally used).

    I was dismayed to learn that what the bakery I work at makes is actually "Spotted Dog Cake" because it's basically a huge raisin scone.. but it's still pretty good.

    Another interesting note: Caraway is only mixed in soda bread in Ulster, but the other provinces don't do it.

  2. Thanks for the link Josh. The Brown Bread does sounds like what I was looking for. I even stock whole wheat pastry flour. It will be interesting to see how the taste differs. I did like the caraway seeds, so I'll probably continue using them and let people know that this is the Ulster version of soda bread :)