Traditional Irish Soda Bread with a few twists: seasoned with plenty of black pepper, shaped into single-serving biscuits, and baked in a cast iron skillet. A one-bowl recipe that gets fresh, homemade bread from flour-to-table in under an hour!
Every year about this time, I get the most intense cravings for homemade bread. I love homemade bread — and I love making homemade bread — but, as with many of you, I’m sure, time doesn’t always cooperate.
But today, we’re solving both problems with a bread recipe that goes from bowl to table in under an hour, and perfectly timed for the season (hello, St. Paddy’s Day!). Fresh, steamy, irresistible bread, in time for dinner, no planning ahead required.
Y’all know about Irish Soda Bread, right? It’s the not the airy French baguette with a crackling crust that makes us daydream about picnics in grassy fields under a foreign sun. No, it’s rustic and filling, and you work it with a sturdy spoon, not a whirling stand mixer or the heel of your hand.
Irish soda bread uses no yeast, so there’s no proofing time, no overnight rest in a covered bowl. No standing around with toe-tapping impatience, waiting for the magic to begin.
The humble marriage of baking soda and an acid (in this case, the lemon juice in my vegan buttermilk) creates carbon dioxide that bubbles through the bread dough, creating a no-wait rise.
How to make amazing Vegan Irish Soda Bread Biscuits
The main thing I love about soda bread, though, is that it’s one-bowl easy. Everything goes into the bowl, mix it up, and you’re ready to create charming Irish soda bread biscuits that your family will scarf up like there’s no tomorrow.
Srsly. It’s honest-to-goodness as easy as combining the dry ingredients, stirring in the wet, and then forming cheek-pinchable dough balls that will bake up beautifully in a skillet.
If you’ve got rambunctious littles underfoot with loads of energy and no where to go with it, this is an awesome introductory baking project. Try to keep the little hands from overworking the dough like Playdough, but, really, even if the biscuits turn out a little dense, the education is worth it.
Many American soda bread recipes add dried fruit to the batter, such as raisins, of which I’m definitely not a fan (but I am a fan of every cook transforming a recipe into something she and her family will love, so if raisins are your thing, go for it!).
For my own twist on traditionally plain Irish soda bread, I’ve added loads of freshly ground black pepper to the dough, which was so unexpectedly lovely that I’ve made this recipe a half dozen times in the last month. It’s not spicy, it doesn’t catch in the back of your throat. It’s just … zippy. In the yummiest of ways.
Irish soda bread is also the perfect candidate for experimenting with flour mixtures. Try replacing 1 cup of all-purpose flour with whole wheat, or white whole wheat, for a nuttier result. In this batch that I photographed for this post, I used 1 cup of oat flour. Oat flour is so easy to make at home, although I use the term “make” here really loosely, lol, because you’re literally just grinding oats in a blender: process a rounded cup of quick rolled oats in a high-speed blender (I use my Nutribullet) or food processor until fine, like flour. This produces a level cup of flour. And, that’s it, you’re ready to go!
Pro cleaning tip: bread dough residue can be sticky and turn crusty and weird in short order, on your hands, in your bowl, and on your spoon. No matter. First, grab a palmful of flour and, standing over your garbage can, rub that flour vigorously over your hands and fingers. The sticky bits will loosen and fall away. Same with the spoon. For the bowl, rather than soaking the bowl and sending the resulting paste down the drain (remember elementary school art projects: water + flour = glue for paper mache — if you have iron pipes like I do, that’s no bueno), sprinkle a little fresh flour into the bowl, dry, and use a damp paper towel to scrub the bowl clean, as though the flour were scrubbing powder. Easy peasy!
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter (plus more for serving)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour*
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda**
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups vegan buttermilk ***
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 10"-12" oven-proof or cast iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the vegan butter.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and pepper. Make a shallow well in the center of the bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups of the vegan buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon, incorporating all of the flour into the buttermilk. If there's still powdery flour in the bowl, add more buttermilk one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together (but don't overwork).
Turn out the dough onto the counter. It will be bumpy, stringy, and slightly sticky. Wet both hands with water, and gather up the dough. Knead quickly into a flattened disk. Divide the dough in 6 to 8 more-or-less equal pieces, and work each into a ball. Arrange the dough balls in the skillet, without packing too tightly.
Bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the remaining vegan butter in a small pot. At the 15 minute mark, the biscuit tops should begin to brown. Remove and brush each roll with the melted butter. Return to oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more. The minis will be golden with browned peeks. Remove, and let rest a bit before serving, or until they can be handled.
Split open and slather the insides with more vegan butter. Serve while warm.
* All-purpose flour make an awesome Irish soda bread, but I like to use a flour mix, too. For the photos in this post, I used 2 cups of A-P flour, and 1 cup of oat flour. Oat flour is super easy to do at home, by the way: grind a rounded cup of quick rolled oats in a high-speed blender (I used my Nutribullet) to make 1 cup of oat flour.
** Make sure your baking soda is fresh (within the expiration date, stored sealed). It's the primary leavening agent in this recipe, so you don't want to use soda that's flat. When in doubt, a box is cheap, so buy new, and use the old to freshen up your refrigerator or your sink drain.
*** If you don't have time to make homemade vegan cashew buttermilk, add two tablespoons of lemon juice to 2 cups of a neutral tasting, store-bought non-dairy milk substitute, such as cashew, pea protein, or soy milk.