Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Irish Soda Bread

Over the years, March 17 has become a Serious Food Occasion in the Kelley household. It’s been a really big deal to make a special St. Patrick’s Day dinner. In the past I’ve written about Corned Beef, Peppered Cabbage, and Lamb Stew
irish soda bread
I’m really happy with some of those recipes, but I’m still working on my Soda Bread recipe, so I asked my good friend Catherine who knows EVERYTHING about food and cooking if she had any suggestions. To my great delight, she sent me the following email:
Quick breads were never very reliable in the beginning. “Baking soda” or potash, made from ashes from the fire sometimes worked and sometimes, if the milk was too sour or not sour enough, well, the bread had tunnels instead of nice bubbles. Being a good baker was much harder back in those days. However, if you were far from a bakery you had no choice. Fortunately we no longer have those ingredient-related problems, so, here is an easy, traditional favorite to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Irish Soda Bread
Every Irish housewife had her own secret to Soda bread, ranging from the number of raisins to how many times she kneaded it. Add your own “Irish luck” with your own secret addition – a pinch of cinnamon in the dough?  a sprinkle of sugar on top before baking?dried cranberries instead of raisins?
Irish Soda Bread
  • 2 c. flour, all purpose or use whole wheat flour for up to half of the flour
  • 2 to 5 T. sugar, white, or brown
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 to 1 c. raisins (optional)
  • 1 to 3 t. caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 c. buttermilk, or 1 cup milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice, let stand for 5 minutes
  • 1 egg
  • 4 T. soft butter (1/2 stick or 2 oz)
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the buttermilk and egg with a fork in a smaller bowl. Mix in the soft butter. It won’t incorporate but that’s okay. (Ssssshhhhhh, I just melted the butter and it turned out fine!)
Dry ingredients for Irish Soda BreadWet Ingredients for Irish soda breadIrish soda bread
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until it is all combined into a shaggy dough. Do not overmix. Sprinkle with a little flour if mixture is sticky. If it is too dry add tablespoon or so of milk.
Irish Soda Bread
Form into a round loaf. Turn out on a parchment covered sheet pan, tucking the outside edges under. (Yep, notice that I seem to be unable to follow instructions and I actually used my spring-form cake pan for this bread.)
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Brush the top with milk. With a serrated knife mark an X about 1/2 inch deep on the top. (I added that extra bit of milk and ended up with a bread that was too wet to score with the knife. I meant to score it partway through the baking but I forgot.)
Bake at 375 for  40 to 50 minutes. If you insert a toothpick, it will come back out clean if the bread is done baking. Cool on a rack.
Irish Soda Bread
This afternoon, when I made this soda bread, I decided that my special secret signature ingredient is going to be the zest of an orange. You can’t really see it, but it’s there and added a really nice extra to the flavor mix. I was so pleased with how my soda bread turned out.
Irish Soda Bread
And if you’ve just run out of time and you’re thinking, There is no WAY I can make corned beef and cabbage AND soda bread, I strongly recommend that you zip right on over to Stick Boy Bread Company and buy some of their Irish Soda bread. They have a variety of soda bread that is my new favorite, Speckled soda bread. It has quite a bit of chocolate in it….I suspect that is NOT traditional but it is delicious!
Be sure to stop over at My Sister’s Kitchen for some more recipes for your St. Patrick’s Day feast.



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