Irish soda bread with raisins and walnut is the easiest bread you will ever make! Tender bread with a hint of sweetness, bitterness, and creamy, nutty flavor.
We are gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day here at the Gavin household! While my husband Jason looks forward to the corned beef, I enjoy making Irish soda bread. It is seriously the easiest bread you will ever make. No need for yeast, waiting for it to proof, and hours later ready to eat.
All you have to do is mix, knead, shape, bake and devour! Your hungry guests won’t even realize the difference in texture, and you can look like a superstar pulling out a warm crusty loaf of Irish soda bread, just as the timer for the corned beef summons. This year I decided to go a little sweet, nutty and boozy. We already have some Guinness chilling in our fridge, so why not add a little bit of stout to the bread too.
Have you tried spelt flour? It’s a type of wheat that can be ground to a whole grain flour with a light nutty, sweet flavor. I used it in this Irish soda bread recipe to compliment the walnuts, and the little bit of coarser grind gives a nice chew to the bread. Spelt has a moderate amount of gluten-forming potential, so it works great in baking applications or blended with other flours. It is not gluten-free so make sure to find a substitute when making this recipe.
So we talked about adding a little bit of magical Guinness stout beer to the bread mix. It gives this beautiful roasted flavor with a slight bitter note. It might sound weird at first, but believe me, when you try it your heart will skip a beat! The effervescence from the stout plus reaction of the baking soda with liquid makes the bread light, tender and helps it rise! To balance that bitterness, there’s a touch of brown sugar in the mix, oh yeah!
Are you like me and go gaga for fruity, nutty, chewy bread? Oh, I can’t get enough. As I was brainstorming recipe ideas, my husband mentioned adding some fruit. I usually make a savory bacon cheddar Irish soda bread, so this was something new and exciting!
I saw a big bag of walnuts that I had gotten from the store a few days before and the light bulb began to flash. Yes, a hint of sweetness, a creamy, nutty texture, and some bitter dark beer, winner!
The dough yields a pretty large loaf, so you can even make smaller individual rolls or two rounds, it’s totally up to you. Just keep an eye on your baking time.
I use my instant read thermometer to check for doneness, usually, if the internal reading is 180°F, the bread is ready. I could not wait to cut a big slice of the warm bread. I have little willpower when the smell of fresh bread is filling the air!
This Irish soda bread with raisins and walnuts is a blissful pairing with my corned beef dishes. The family had hearty helpings, and the bread was buttered, dipped and demolished. Yep, we are hungry Gavin’s, especially when it comes to traditional Irish comfort food. What’s your favorite mix in’s for Irish soda bread?
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If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #jessicagavin on Instagram. I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
How does the Irish soda bread rise without yeast?
Some types of breads require a proofing step to allow the yeast to ferment and produce carbon dioxide gas bubbles to help the bread rise and become soft and tender. For Irish soda bread, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is added as a quick leavening agent. The baking soda reacts with liquid (stout beer) and acid in the dough (yogurt), creating carbon dioxide (gas), just like yeast fermentation. The hot oven temperatures help the reaction occur rapidly, and the proteins in the dough set and lock in those bubbles for a soft and tender bread.
Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Walnuts
- 4 cups spelt flour
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup greek yogurt, plain
- 1 cup stout beer
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins, roughly chopped (I used half golden and half Thompson grapes)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a large mixing bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the yogurt and beer. Stir until the dough comes together into a ball. If the dough seems too wet, add a tablespoon more flour at a time. The dough should be slightly sticky but easy to shape.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead into a rough ball, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Shape into a 12-inch long by 4-inch wide loaf, transfer to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle dough with a little flour and use a sharp knife to make 4 diagonal scores across the surface.
- Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped or internal temperature reaches 180°F.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack, or serve warm.
2) Whole wheat, whole wheat white, all-purpose, gluten-free, and rye flour can be substituted for the spelt flour.
3) Coconut or granulated sugar can be substituted for the brown sugar. Honey or maple syrup can also be substituted but should be mixed in with the beer and yogurt.
4) You can shape the dough into 2 smaller loaves or individual rolls. The timing will be shorter, check internal temp of the bread, it's ready when it hits 180°F.
5) Apple cider can be used as a replacement if you don't want to use beer.
6) I used Guinness beer, but any stout will work.
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