loaf of sourdough bread on a kitchen towel
Food - Drink
Why Traditional Irish Soda Bread Has A Cross Is Carved Into It
Traditional Irish soda bread is a practical style of bread, as it transforms flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk into a nutritious loaf. Irish soda bread can be flavored with a variety of ingredients, but it consistently has a cross atop each loaf.
Master baker Mary Gleeson stated that the cross in soda bread is "to let the fairies out." Cook's Country has a similar explanation for the cross on Irish soda bread, claiming that it's to let the devil out, but there may be an even more practical reason.
When buttermilk and baking soda are combined, they produce carbon dioxide, which expands the bread as it bakes. Scoring, or cutting a cross into the top of the loaf, allows the bread to expand without splitting in unexpected spots.