Irish Soda Bread: A Comparison

Remember my failed attempted at making Irish soda bread? (Hey, that’s great if you don’t! Just don’t try to remember, okay?)

Well, I tried my hand at it again, on St. Patrick’s Day (okay, okay, it really has taken me some time to write this…oops). And…it was 80% a success (the other 20% includes failure to rise enough and the fact that I ate more than a quarter of it after it came out of the oven)!

One day in my infinite free time (read: not reading for Strategic Management or formulating a budget or reading three chapters in Personality because the professor insists on cramming as much information into 3 hours as humanely possible), I was browsing for a recipe in which I could use whole wheat flour, since that’s all that I had on hand.

I wanted a bread that had a good crumb, was tender, and rose well (and now this sounds like a Cook’s illustrated column).


Hey there, CI...

I found lots of recipes that were similar to each other, but none really caught my eye. I figured I’d just have to work around a recipe.

I knew some recipes for other baked goods (doughnuts!) used potato flour to make it tender, so I figured I’d just bake a potato and see how that went.

Lesson #1: You can steam a potato.

Steaming a potato had never occurred to me before, but apparently it is possible.

The last time my Irish soda bread was kind of dry, so I knew I needed to add more “buttermilk” to the dough.

Lesson #2: Vanilla almond milk works great as a sub for regular almond milk (although probably not in savory dishes…vanilla-flavored mashed potatoes? I don’t think so).

Last time my bread stuck to the skillet I baked it in, so this time I made sure I generously greased a baking sheet.

Lesson #3: Olive oil is your friend (it also makes for a tasty bottom crust on your bread).

So, with these three lessons combined, I set to work on the bread.

Let’s compare the two loaves:

Attempt #1

It looks innocent enough...

However, this one was dry, crumbly, and just not good.

Attempt #2:

A great testament to the success of this recipe comes from the fact that I have no picture of the full loaf. What can I say, it was tasty…

Look at that bottom crust...tastiness.


This bread pretty much tasted like cake. It wasn’t dry at all, it held together well, but it just didn’t rise as high as I expected. I think this came from the fact that I should have attempted to knead it a little before plopping it on the cookie sheet.

The verdict? Overall, a success! (but on the inside, I’m still wanting to try it one more time…just to see if I can get it to rise. Hey, I’ve got a lot of caraway seeds left…)

Have you ever turned around a baking fail?

Have a great Saturday!


2 thoughts on “Irish Soda Bread: A Comparison

  1. The bread looks like it came out great!! I’ve yet to try my hand at it again, but over the St. Patty’s Day “Irish Food Extravaganza” that was the blog-world, I’ve found myself with a couple recipes bookmarked. Maybe I’ll tackle them by this time next year…:P
    (And hey, if it tastes good, rising is over-rated. can’t tell you how many loaves of bread I’ve had that taste amazing but are practically sunken in the middle!)

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