Irish Soda Bread

I am the daughter of an Irishwoman. She was the wife of an Irishman.

Confused?

Apparently, so am I.

Okay. So I’m not Irish. Even on St. Patrick’s Day, when Irish-people the world over warmly welcome us all into their league of jovial camaraderie, I am not Irish. Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! they say. Nice thought, but I’m sure it goes deeper than that.

But growing up, if you were to step into my house, you may have wondered otherwise. My father adored, I mean adored, corned beef. He still does today. It was a staple in our household. It didn’t help that my sister could reproduce a spot-on Irish brogue. And on Saturday afternoons, my mom would bake – for her Irish Soda Bread was almost an obsession.

Looking back, I came think of Irish Soda Bread as my mom’s signature bread. It quickly became associated with holidays such as New Year’s – she would spend the eve baking loaves that she loved to serve with a salty ham and slivers of sharp cheese when the family would come over on New Year’s Day. And sometimes she made it for no reason at all.

I pulled out her recipe today and ran my hand over the yellowed paper. Her instructions were simple. I have always wondered where she got the recipe – it will remain a mystery, I’m afraid. But I have a feeling that if you are Irish, you will likely approve.

Maybe I am a wee bit Irish, after all. At least with this.

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Irish Soda Bread

Yield: 1 10-inch loaf

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Cut into this hefty loaf, and your will find a moist and thick crumb, almost cake-like, thanks to the buttermilk. I personally love the raisins and caraway seeds in my Irish Soda Bread, but of course, adapt to your tastes if you are not fans of either. The slight sweetness partners well with a nice sharp cheese, and of course, a good salty butter. But of course, it is just as lovely all by itself.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup raisins (more or less, to preference)
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Prepare a 10 inch pie pan or cast iron skillet by lightly greasing with oil. You can also bake it on a parchment lined baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking soda, baking powder and salt. If you are using an electric mixer, a paddle attachment may be used. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture (using either a pastry cutter or paddle attachment of electric mixer) until the flour becomes crumbly. Add the raisins and mix. Add the egg and buttermilk, and mix until just combined.

Knead the dough, using the dough hook of the electric mixer, or simply by hand in the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a ball with floured hands. Place in the prepared baking pan, and press down lightly. If you like, cut a cross on top of the dough before placing in the oven.

Bake for 1 hour.

Enjoy while warm.

The loaf may be kept in a reusable zipper storage bag at room temperature overnight. Be sure to cool the bread completely before storing.

I really believe the quality of your flour makes a difference. My favorite for this bread is King Arthur's Unbleached Bread Flour.

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by Liren Baker on March 16, 2012

32 Responses to “Irish Soda Bread”

  1. Alessandra — March 16, 2012 @ 9:00 am (#
    1
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    What a lovely bread, and skillet :-).

    Ciao
    Alessandra

    • liren replied: — March 16th, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

      Thanks, Alessandra – I do love my skillet, too. It’s so handy!

  2. Belinda @zomppa — March 16, 2012 @ 10:33 am (#
    2
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    We’re all Irish! I LOVE that hand-written recipe. Oh – you must preserve that so you can hand it down.

    • liren replied: — March 16th, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

      Yes, I really must preserve it. My brother had a lovely idea of framing some of our favorite dishes, penned by my mom. She wrote just a few, so they are precious.

  3. Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } — March 16, 2012 @ 2:49 pm (#
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    Liren – You can be an honorary Irish lady for the day! From the looks of your bread – perhaps you do have a bit of Irish. I think I might have to make this for tomorrow! Delish!!!!

    • liren replied: — March 16th, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

      Ha! With your blessing, I guess I will :)

  4. Barbara | Creative Culinary — March 16, 2012 @ 3:09 pm (#
    4
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    I am 1/4 Irish. Or so I’ve been told. The grandparent that had Irish blood died when I was a little girl so I’ve never heard stories or traditions associated with that part of my heritage but I know this…I do love Irish food! My corned beef is in the fridge curing even now!

    I posted an Irish Coffee today; I don’t suppose I can do Irish soda bread and Irish coffee for breakfast though right?

  5. Rikki — March 16, 2012 @ 3:15 pm (#
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    I don’t think I’m much Irish either, but I do like clovers and the color green so…you never know. I think it’s amazing that your mom made this for new years and beyond. I can see why she liked it so much..it looks delicious!

  6. Mary@siftingfocus.com — March 16, 2012 @ 3:50 pm (#
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    Liren, what a sweet and touching way to share your mom’s recipe. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into one of your treasured family memories.

  7. patty — March 16, 2012 @ 5:17 pm (#
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    MMMmmmm, I think I have to make this Irish soda bread today and lucky me (Luck of the Irish!) I have all the ingredients, including buttermilk in the house;-) Enjoy your weekend Liren!

    • liren replied: — March 16th, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

      Lucky indeed! Enjoy baking this rainy day, Patty :) I imagine I will be baking lots this weekend.

  8. Nami | Just One Cookbook — March 16, 2012 @ 5:35 pm (#
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    What a beautiful bread! Irish people will be very proud of you for making such a gorgeous Irish bread Liren! Have a great weekend! It’s going to be rainy all weekend though… :-(

  9. Anita at Hungry Couple — March 16, 2012 @ 7:13 pm (#
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    Your bread looks wonderful. I’m not Irish either but I reserve the right to love the food of all cultures :) I just baked my first ever loaf of soda bread and it’s heavenly but not as sweet as yours. Maybe next time I’ll try your recipe and see which I prefer. Thanks.

  10. lea davenport — March 16, 2012 @ 11:29 pm (#
    10
    )

    What a sweet post! I remember finding old hand written cook books from my Nana and the thrill I felt going through the pages and remembering the things she would make. Thank you for the memory!

  11. Priscilla - She's Cookin' — March 17, 2012 @ 2:54 am (#
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    I’m a wee bit Irish, but my husband is more than a wee bit. Beautiful story behind your Irish Soda bread, Liren – we are all interwoven in a colorful tapestry and food is one of the best expressions of this :)

  12. Jamie @ Cookin' with Moxie — March 17, 2012 @ 4:08 am (#
    12
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    I am trying out a recipe for Irish Soda Bread for the first time tomorrow! Sadly enough it’s not a family recipe like yours – I think those are the best ones!

  13. myfudo — March 17, 2012 @ 5:33 am (#
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    I’d love to have an Irish-themed snack or threat once in a while. This looks really delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Beth Michelle — March 17, 2012 @ 8:21 am (#
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    If you can believe it, I have never tried Irish soda bread! Ack! I know! Your photos of it make me so hungry for a piece. I may just have to try your mothers wonderful recipe!

  15. Clara — March 17, 2012 @ 12:05 pm (#
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    Hi there, I couldn’t find in the recipe when and how to add the butter, so I cut it in the flour like when making biscuits. You may want to edit the recipe to say that, or to melt the butt and mix it in with the buttermilk if that’s your preferred method. The loaf is baking now, and looks and smells great!

    • liren replied: — March 17th, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

      Hi Clara, thank you so much for catching that! Can’t believe I left that out – I have updated the recipe. Enjoy the bread!!!

  16. Nancy/SpicieFoodie — March 17, 2012 @ 1:45 pm (#
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    What a lovely post to go with the beautiful bread and photos. Thanks for sharing Liren :) Have a great weekend !

  17. Sandra's Easy Cooking — March 17, 2012 @ 1:51 pm (#
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    Liren this bread look amazing..I am huge soda bread lover! I am not Irish but could eat bread like this everyday!:)) I Love your photos!!!!

  18. Jen Laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings — March 17, 2012 @ 2:20 pm (#
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    Oh yeay! No yeast in this bread. Me and yeast are enemies. At best, my yeast breads are mediocre, never good, never great! I haven’t tried this before, but will be willing to go on a limb to make it!

  19. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts — March 17, 2012 @ 2:33 pm (#
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    I never realized this bread had raisin in it! Looks delicious, and love the memories!

  20. Jean — March 17, 2012 @ 3:30 pm (#
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    Well I am a wee bit Irish in real life but even if I weren’t, I would love this bread just the same. Your bread is beautiful, Liren, but what I can’t stop looking at is that piece of paper. I don’t know why I’m a bit choked up reading this post but I imagine that piece of paper, the handwriting on it, is so much more special than even this delicious loaf of bread it helped produce. So glad you shared this with us. :)

    PS: I can’t fake an accent if my life depended on it but like your sister, my nephews and nieces can turn the accents on and off. I’m jealous! :)

    • liren replied: — March 17th, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

      I would love see your sister, nieces and nephews get together with my sister – they would be a hoot :)

      I’m so glad that I did photograph the recipe – it was a good reminder for me how I need to preserve my mom’s handwriting. I think I should scan them all :)

  21. Suzanne — March 17, 2012 @ 4:47 pm (#
    21
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    That bread looks temptingly good, you would think I’m carb loading by what I have been craving and making lately…maybe I should run a marathon NOT! Happy St. Patrick’s Day Liren-

    • liren replied: — March 17th, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

      Seriously, I have been carb loading too…which means harder workouts at the gym! Enjoy today!

  22. Magic of Spice — March 17, 2012 @ 5:38 pm (#
    22
    )

    My son was just talking about the corned beef I used to make for him…his favorite. There are certainly some wonderful classic Irish dishes, and you mom’s bread fits perfectly there :) Beautiful!

    • liren replied: — March 17th, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

      I think the best part of many Irish foods is how comforting they are. There’s a sense of nostalgia, for sure.

  23. Platanos, Mangoes and Me! — April 29, 2012 @ 7:45 am (#
    23
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    The husband is Irish and I a Spanish…WHen that day comes our friends come over for the spanish infused corned beef…When I become brave I will try this recipe…you know e and my baking…

  24. Emily — January 23, 2014 @ 9:24 am (#
    24
    )

    My irish boyfriend said this doesn’t taste ANYTHING like irish soda bread- but we both agreed it was FANTASTIC anyway! Can’t wait to make it again!

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