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Cranberry soda bread with pecans is a lovely addition to the table any time of day. Serve it up warm with Irish butter on top!
Like everyone else, I’ve been working on my bread making skills the past year.
Bread is one of those things that takes practice, and while I used to make homemade bread all the time, my fingers had forgotten how!
After I baked up a few loaves of my honey oatmeal bread, I decided to perfect my soda bread recipe.
I’ve gone through multiple tests of this cranberry soda bread, and happily, I’ve hit on the best flavor and texture!
Featuring dried cranberries and chopped pecans, this soda bread is ideal for breakfast. The cranberries make it sweet, but not TOO sweet.
What makes soda bread different?
Soda bread does not use yeast to rise, so it’s a great bread for beginning bakers.
Instead, it uses the reaction of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and buttermilk.
Traditional soda bread only uses a few ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt. This makes it super easy for anyone to make, because you probably have the ingredients already!
Even if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can easily create your own buttermilk substitute. Simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup less 1 tablespoon of milk, and let it rest 5 minutes before using.
American-style soda breads like this one also add butter for tender crumb, similar to a biscuit or scone.
What can you add to soda bread?
Soda bread add-ins are nearly limitless, as anyone who is a fan of The Great British Baking Show can tell you!
For my cranberry soda bread, I’ve also added pecans for a nutty crunch. You could swap in walnuts if you prefer.
You can also make even sweeter varieties using chocolate chips, or go savory with cheeses, fresh herbs, or meat.
How do you shape soda bread?
Soda bread dough is very sticky. Don’t be afraid!
Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it just a few times with floured hands to form a ball.
You can shape the soda bread into a longer loaf, but a round loaf is traditional.
I bake soda bread on a lined baking sheet. This creates a somewhat larger, flatter loaf.
If you prefer, put it in a dutch oven lined with parchment. This will help it keep a perfect round shape and bake up beautifully.
Many soda bread recipes call for a scoring across the top in a cross. Apparently, this was originally done for superstitious reasons to protect the household from evil spirits, and the tradition lingers on today.
Whether you add the cross or leave the top undecorated, cranberry soda bread is a wonderful bread to have for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Cranberry Soda Bread with Pecans
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking pan or dutch oven with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in the cranberries and pecans.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg, then add to the dry ingredients.
- Stir until the mixture comes together to form a shaggy dough and all dry bits are incorporated. The dough will be very sticky; resist the urge to add more flour.
- Lightly flour a work surface and scoop out dough onto it. Briefly knead the dough just to shape it into a ball. Transfer dough to baking sheet. If you like, score the top with a cross.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes on a wire rack before cutting.