Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a cinch to make and is a favorite in my house in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day! The soda in the name comes from the baking soda that is used as a leavener in a simple quickbread batter made from whole wheat and white flour, eggs, raisins, buttermilk and a touch of sugar.

I love the rustic look of the craggy, crackly crust!

It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that is delicious toasted with butter or cream cheese and jam for breakfast and is the perfect accompaniment for a bowl of soup or a hearty stew.

In this version I used all white whole wheat flour and swapped out half the golden raisins for dried cranberries. My preference is to use half whole wheat and half white flours, but it is quite adaptable to any kind or combination of flours you prefer. Any type of dried fruit can be used and I’ve seen some with caraway seeds and even one with sun-dried tomatoes in it.

The bread dries out fairly quickly so plan on eating it in a day or two, although toasting it easily takes care of that. If you’re family is anything like mine it won’t be around long enough anyways!

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread
(adapted from Saveur)
2 cups whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. butter
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries (or a mix)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 + 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Sift together the flours, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

2. Use a pastry cutter or two knives scissor fashion to cut butter into flour mixture, until  resembles coarse meal. Stir in raisins, breaking them apart with your fingers if needed.

3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; add beaten egg and buttermilk; mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf.

4. Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about 1/2” deep in an “X” shape. Bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife, 35-40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted.

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