In the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day we devour Irish Soda Bread at an alarming rate in my house! Such a loved favorite it is I have to bake it myself to keep up with the demand.
The soda in the name comes from the baking soda used as a leavener in the simple quickbread batter made from whole wheat and white flour, eggs, raisins, buttermilk and a touch of sugar.
It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that is delicious toasted with butter or cream cheese and jam for breakfast. I know of no better 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. Use any type of dried fruit you like or omit it entirely. 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 your family is anything like mine it won’t be around long enough.
I love the rustic look of the craggy, crackly crust!
A rustic, whole wheat Irish quickbread studded with raisins and cranberries, a favorite for St. Patrick's Day.
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Into a large mixing bowl sift the flours, sugar, salt, and baking soda together.
- Use a pastry cutter or two knives scissor fashion to cut butter into flour mixture, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in raisins, breaking them apart with your fingers if needed.
- 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.
- 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.
Adapted from Saveur