Irish Soda Bread With Apples, Guinness and Cheddar

This is not your traditional Irish soda bread with four basic ingredients of flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Three flavorful ingredients are added; apples, Guinness and an Irish cheddar to make for a very moist and hearty bread. Spread it with some good Irish butter for a perfect finish to this yummy bread.

This is a quick bread where the leavener is baking soda instead of yeast. There is a reaction between the buttermilk and baking soda producing bubbles of carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise. Soda bread was not invented by the Irish but it was the easiest and least expensive bread to make, especially back in the mid 1800’s when the earliest recipe from Ireland was found.

Also, the Irish Potato Famine was occurring when one million people died from starvation and typhus and other famine related diseases. When half of the population of Ireland was poor a cheap and quick bread was a necessity.

In the recent quarterly issue of Bake From Scratch this bread was one of four soda breads featured and it just said “bake me.” It was followed  by a recipe using rosemary and parmesan or how about a soda bread with raisins and walnuts? They all sounded good but I went with a favorite combination of apples and cheddar.

This bread is absolutely delicious spread with some Irish Kerrygold  Butter.


Irish Soda Bread With Apples, Guinness and Cheddar

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. light brown sugar, firmly packed and divided
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1-3/4 cups Granny Smith apples, finely chopped
  • 4 cups plus 1 tsp. flour, divided
  • 2-1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded (Irish Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar)
  • 1 cup Guinness beer, room temperature (I used draught)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (Irish Kerrygold Unsalted Butter)
  • 1/4 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. old-fashioned oats

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil and flour a 10×5-inch loaf pan. You could also use a baking spray that has flour in it.

Combine 2 tbsp. brown sugar and vinegar; stir in the chopped apples. Let stand for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the 4 cups flour, baking soda, salt and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add the apple mixture and shredded cheese. Gradually stir in the beer and melted butter. Add the buttermilk and stir just until the ingredients are moistened.

Gently knead the dough until ingredients are combined.

Shape into a log, and press into prepared pan. Using a sharp knife or lame, score a shallow line on top of the dough. Combine oats and remaining 1 tsp. of flour and sprinkle on top.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cover loosely with foil halfway through baking if the bread is browning too much. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes.

Comment: I really appreciate the pro tips this magazine provides: “The apple cider vinegar keeps your apples from turning red during the baking process. It also reacts with baking soda, creating carbon dioxide and giving your bread extra rise”.

This is exactly why I enjoy my magazine subs and cookbooks, there is always so much more information to read than just a recipe.

Recipe by 


15 thoughts on “Irish Soda Bread With Apples, Guinness and Cheddar

    • Thanks so much – I think we all like bread whether it’s a muffin, yeast bread or a quick bread like this. Soda bread was not my favorite until I made this version – of course it’s going to be good with apples, cheese and beer!


  1. I love soda breads and this one looks so tasty!
    Interesting explanation about the vinegar. I’ve made something somewhat similar a couple of months ago, but the apples didn’t turn red even though I didn’t use the vinegar. Maybe I just got lucky… 🙂


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