Irish Soda Bread: A St. Patrick’s Day Tradition

Just like The Renaissance Man making Irish cream throughout the holiday season, I begin making Irish soda bread as soon as the stores stop selling king cake. So from the beginning of Lent through March 17th, we have a loaf of Irish soda bread in the house.

If you have never had (or made) Irish soda bread, I encourage you to try it, even if you’re not irish (don’t worry, I won’t tell). The raisins and caraway seeds blend nicely, and the buttermilk gives it a nice tang. We eat ours warm with butter, but it’s also nice topped with honey, or marmalade.

Making Irish soda bread is a tradition in our house; maybe it will become one in yours.

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 C. flour
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp. cold butter
  • 1 1/2 C. raisins
  • 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C. buttermilk

Step 1: Combine the first five ingredients. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. If this means nothing to you, just blend it together until the butter is the size of peas. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds and set it aside.

Step 2: In a small bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the beaten egg. Add the buttermilk to the remaining egg in the bowl. If you do not keep buttermilk in your fridge and you forgot to buy some (like me) you can stir 1/2 C. of plain yogurt into 1 C. of milk. It tastes just the same!

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Step 3: Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until everything is moistened (the dough will be sticky). Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead ten times. Shape the dough into a ball.

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(nothing like an Irish woman making Irish soda bread while wearing her Claddagh wedding-ring…)

Step 4: Grease a large cast iron skillet (or a round baking pan if you don’t have a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you should go out and get one right now.) Place the dough in the center of the skillet/pan and cut a cross into the top.

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Brush the top of the bread with the reserved egg, and sprinkle with sugar. Turbinado sugar is best, but regular granulated sugar works just fine (and is what I used). Bake the bread at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

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Cool it on a wire rack for at least ten minutes before serving.

I was recently forced to make this using 1/2 whole wheat flour (I may have forgotten to cut the butter into the flour on my first go-round and had to throw the whole thing out. Maybe.) It was good with half whole wheat flour, but I would hesitate to make it using only whole wheat flour. The flavor and texture would be altered too much.

I hope you enjoy this little tradition of ours!

The Wife


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