Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

If you grew up eating Irish Soda Bread on St. Pat's day apparently your version may be nothing like mine. My Irish Soda Bread has to have golden raisins and caraway seeds in it. I don't make it in the shape of snake with raisin eyes like I had when I was little and I never saw the need to dye everything green like in my childhood. But that doesn't mean I don't get a childish pleasure out of making a loaf and serving it on St. Pat's.

You can still make some to celebrate St. Pat's in a more family friendly way today than serving your kids a green beer. One of those really easy breads - no yeast. You should have most of the ingredients at home and you can cheat on the buttermilk if you don't want to stop at the store.

Irish Soda Bread

2 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1/2 stick cold butter cut into pieces
1 cup golden raisins (or regular raisins)
2 T. caraway seeds (optional but one of my favorite parts)
2/3 cup buttermilk (no buttermilk? look below)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In food processor, pulse together flour, baking powder, baking soda, caraway seeds, salt and sugar. Put butter pieces on top of flour mixture.

Whenever I make something where the butter needs to be "cut in" I usually slice the cold stick of butter (or half a stick in this case) into 3 long slices then turn the stick a quarter and cut into 3 slices. You should now have 9 long bars of butter still in a stick shape. Slice on the short end of the stick to produce pea sized squares of cold butter. If you do this before you are ready to use - throw the cubes back in the fridge to stay cold while you gather up everything else.

Add the butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Measure 2/3 cup buttermilk into a one cup container or bowl. Add the egg to the buttermilk; beat together. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Pulse till it comes together.

Place a small amount of flour on the counter. Turn dough out onto the counter and work in the raisins until incorporated. Don’t overwork the dough though or it will be tough.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a parchment lined pan to form a large disk of dough. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross over the top of the bread. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden on top. Slice and serve with Irish butter.

To make a substitute for buttermilk add a tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of whole milk. The milk will curdle. Measure out the amount you need.

If you want to go authentic Andrew McCarthy wrote a story on it in March, Bon Appetit.


  1. Mmmmm...looks really yummy! Something I will definitely try since it's no yeast. I like the butter tip too :)

  2. This looks a lot better than the concrete whole wheat loaf I tried to make once!

  3. Thanks for the recipe! My last attempt at soda bread came out somewhat similar to Dianne's... I managed to salvage it by stashing it in a tea towel for a while while it was warm, and that softened it some. It was still tough though- from the sound of it, I overworked the dough.

    I'm going to give this recipe a shot tonight.


  4. Anonymous11:03 AM

    OK - Lisa, only you can get me to BLOG! I've never done this, but am looking forward to making your soda bread tonight! Looking forward to future blogs! Love you!
    Is there a limit to blog entries?
    Could try a 6 word thing...with an anagram twist:
    Gifted, Lisa, Amazing, Delicious, Food, Blogger
    GLAD (n) F(a)B!
    Sorry could have worked it a little more, but had to run!

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Lisa Caplan11:21 AM

    Never had a thing you made that was not deeee-licious! So I'm game to give this a try. It is kosher, isn't it?

  7. Lisa,
    I don't know. It has baking powder in it and you know how I feel about baking powder! Happy St. Patrick's Day.

  8. Alright! Love the new design...and that photo isn't too shabby either! We'll have to talk soon about blogging...I have advice on how to gain readership etc. :) Looks amazing, Lisa. Congrats!

  9. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Hi Happy St Patrick Day to you and your family. The bread looks lovely. My only problem is that Ken doesn't like caraway seeds.
    Have a good night. LeAnn

  10. I thought this was great fun and very funny! You're a natural teacher. So... I'm wondering. Can I give my dog green beer?

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  11. I made this last night without the caraway or raisins, and it was great.

    The dough was very loose, and the center of the bread was a bit soft even though the outside was done- should I try a lower oven temperature or something?

  12. John - How long did you cook it for? Have you ever used an oven thermometer to check the temp of your oven?

  13. I cooked it for a little over 25 minutes, perhaps 30 at the most. Looking at the picture posted above, I did create a more "domed" loaf than what you have, and that is probably what led to it cooking unevenly. The edges cooked perfectly. Next time I'll try for something approaching a giant biscuit. :)

    At any rate, this is by far the best tasting irish soda bread I've made. It will no longer be relegated to a once yearly position on the calendar!

  14. Lisa-
    recipe sounds easy and good. Too bad I do not cook. Love the photo. Love, Maria

  15. This soda bread looks delicious. I love the picture with butter-so tempting!