Why You Should Add Baking Powder To Homemade Soda Bread

Soda bread is a quick bread, which means instead of yeast, its dough uses an alternative leavener (in this case, baking soda) to get its rise (via Taste of Home). In fact, soda bread actually got its name because of the baking soda in its recipe. Soda bread is typically marked by a signature cross carved into each loaf, and due to its strong association with Irish culture, it's especially popular to enjoy for St. Patrick's Day celebrations (via Serious Eats).

According to Farmer's Almanac, soda bread in its current form was created in the 1830s when the ability to use baking soda as a bread leavener was first introduced to the United Kingdom. Because of its simple, inexpensive ingredients, the popularity of soda bread spread throughout Ireland as an effective way to feed people during the scarcity caused by the Irish Potato Famine (via The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread).

According to The New York Times, traditional Irish Soda Bread is made with only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. Today, several variations to soda bread exist, including everything from sugar to raisins to whiskey (via The Atlantic). But one thing that has not changed is using baking soda to leaven the bread. And if you're willing to explore an unorthodox method, you might just find yourself with all the same great taste and a more desirable texture.

Lighten the loaf

Traditionally, soda bread is very dense and has a cakey crumb (via The Guardian). But sometimes tradition is meant to be broken. If you're looking for more rise and an airer texture, you can make your soda bread with baking powder in addition to the baking soda that the recipe calls for.

Cook's Country experimented with several methods to improve the texture of soda bread. First, they found that extra baking soda ruined the taste, but adding equal parts baking powder and baking soda fluffed up the loaf while keeping the bread perfectly tasty. Additionally, MasterClass explains that a recipe with both baking soda and baking powder relies on the baking powder to do most of the heavy lifting.

If you're willing to break tradition, baking powder is an easy addition that will result in a more tender loaf. So keep that in mind when it comes time to make your next Irish Soda Bread. But if you want to keep the recipe super classic, we understand.