Irish Bacon and Cheddar Soda Bread

So I totally missed St. Patrick’s Day! As the wife of an Irishman, I’m sure there is some law about this! It’s not that I don’t LOVE St Patrick’s Day, but with both of us really busy with work these past few weeks as well as the usual life stuff, we both clearly just forgot. I even tried to scoot around after work and pick up some Irish cider for dinner but it was all sold out. It was a total failure. Anyway, moving on. I hope you had a cracking St Patrick’s day. We’ll be making up for it next year, but in the meantime, we’ve been snacking on this Irish cheddar soda bread which is delicious any day of the year.

An Irish Soda Bread is the ultimate quick bread recipe. A time-poor mum’s Sunday morning savior when she hasn’t got a loaf of sourdough on the go. In under an hour, this savory soda bread will save your bacon (pardon the pun!) and give you a delicious, yet totally easy-to-bake, loaf of bread for the Sunday table.

a loaf of Irish cheddar soda bread in a cast iron frypan just out of the oven on a floured table.

Why you are going to love this easy Irish cheddar soda bread

Where do I start? Ok, firstly this bacon and cheese soda bread is super easy to make. Soda bread is the biggest bread cheat. No kneading, little proving, or much effort, and you’ll be eating a loaf of homemade bread straight out of the oven in under an hour! there’s no yeast in it! No yeast means no prooving as the bicarb soda combined with the buttermilk is our leavening agent here. I still prove it a little to let the gluten settle a bit after mixing, however, this is totally optional and just a little soda bread baking tip I picked up at Daylesford cookery school.

This delicious recipe totally lends itself to every meal of the day. Think about it. Breakfast, with ham and eggs and beans. For lunch, make it into the best toastie ever or serve it alongside a hearty soup. And what about alongside a good beef stew or pasta for dinner? See, I told you. EVERY MEAL OF THE DAY.

What you need to get started

  • Pantry staples – plain all purpose flour or bread flour, seas salt flakes, baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

  • Fresh chives

  • Cheddar cheese – I use Warnambool Vintage Cheddar for this traditional Irish soda bread but as long as it’s a sharp cheddar cheese, it will work. Bonus points if it’s an Irish aged cheddar cheese!

  • Streaky bacon – cut into a rough 1cm sq dice.

  • Honey

  • Buttermilk – if you can’t get your hands on buttermilk you can easily make your own buttermilk by combining 1 cup of regular milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice. leave for a couple of minutes until it curdles and you’ve got buttermilk!

The equipment

A baking tray, a wooden spoon, measuring spoons, a large mixing bowl, and a knife (I use a small serrated knife) to score the top of the loaf before baking. That’s it! Talk about no-fuss. I usually bake my soda bread recipes on baking paper which is then placed in a cast-iron frypan, however, this is totally optional. I just love baking in cast iron. It gives such a beautiful, crusty base to any loaf.

Here’s how to make this easy Irish soda bread recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.

  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pop aside.

  3. In a frypan on medium heat, fry off the bacon bits until browned and slightly crispy on the ends (about 5 minutes)

  4. Add the bacon to the bowl of dry ingredients. Add grated cheddar and chopped chives. Combine.

  5. In a small bowl add the honey to the buttermilk and give a good stir. 

  6. Make well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk mixture to the mixing bowl with other ingredients. Using a large spoon, Stir just to combine, but no more. The mixture should be quite wet. This is completely normal. At his point I like to rest my dough for 30 minutes, however, this is optional. I feel you get a better result by resting the gluten. However, I make it both with and without the resting step depending on how time-poor I am that day.  

  7. Form the dough into a rough ball and pop it onto a piece of parchment paper on a  baking tray (or like I do, into a cast iron skillet, lightly dusted with flour. Using the back of a wet spoon, gently smooth over the surface to guide it into a round, bread dough. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the dough with a large, deep cross.

  8. Pop into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Once cooked, turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool. OR you could break off a chunk and smother it with cold butter… Just putting it out there!  

Is my soda bread cooked?

How do you know if your soda bread is cooked? Turn it over and give the base a tap. If it sounds hollow, then it’s cooked. If it doesn’t, then give it another 5-10 minutes in the oven.

Cooks notes

I know it’s tempting to want to knead or pop your dough in a stand mixer to combine it, but please don’t. Soda bread is an easy recipe that likes to be worked as little as possible – it basically turns into a brick if you overwork the gluten. It’s the complete opposite to sourdough baking… Consider yourself warned!

How do I serve Irish cheddar soda bread?

Irish Soda bread is best eaten on the day of baking, At best soda bread can be eaten on the day it’s baked and then toasted on the next. I love toasting it the next morning for breakfast, just smothered in a little butter.

In this house, my bacon, chive, and cheese soda bread is served just out of the oven, with a side of poached eggs, avocado, and bacon for breakfast or simply slathered in butter all day long. It also is delicious alongside a big bowl of soup like this Persian lamb shank soup or Irish stew in the cooler months.

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Love an Irish food classic? Check out these posts for more recipes…

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a load of bacon, chive and cheese soda bread in a black cast iron frypan on a floured surface

Irish Bacon and Cheddar Soda Bread

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  • Author: Emma Lee
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Resting Time (optional): 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Irish

Description

Soda Bread… The ultimate quick bread. A time-poor mum’s Sunday morning savior when she hasn’t got a loaf of sourdough on the go. In under an hour, this savory soda bread will save your bacon (pardon the pun!) and give you a delicious, yet totally easy to bake, loaf of bread for the Sunday table.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt flakes
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp chopped chives
  • 120g cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 170g streaky bacon, cut into a rough 1cm sq dice.
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pop aside.
  3. In a frypan on a medium heat, fry off the bacon bits until browned and slighly crispy on the ends (about 5 minutes)
  4. Add the bacon to the bowl of dry ingredients. Add grated cheddar and chopped chives. Combine.
  5. In a small bowl add the honey to the buttermilk and give a good stir. 
  6. Add the buttermilk mixture to the mixing bowl with other ingredients. Stir just to combine, but no more. The mixture should be quite wet. This is completely normal. Cover with a clean tea towel and rest the dough for 30 minutes.
  7. Form the dough into a rough ball and pop onto a piece of baking paper on a baking tray (or like I do, into a cast iron frypan). Using the back of a wet spoon, gently smooth over the surface to guide it into a round, bread dough. Score the top of the dough with a large X.
  8. Pop into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. 

Notes

I like to rest my dough for 30 minutes, however, this is optional. I feel you get a better result by resting the gluten. However, I make it both with and without the resting step depending on how time-poor I am that day.  

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