So, another year come and another year gone…and I’ve finally made Irish soda bread!  I’ve only been considering it for the past four St. Patty’s Days.  Right, just four years.  Sheesh.  And to be honest, up until two days ago I had no idea which recipe to use.  And then…Smitten Kitchen came to my rescue.  It was like Deb swooped down from the shadows and everything was right in the soda bread world.  Deb had posted a recipe which meant a.) I now had a reliable source, and b.) this was going to be some good soda bread.

As Deb describes it, the addition of raisins and caraway seeds makes this American soda bread rather than traditional Irish soda bread which contains just flour, baking soda, and buttermilk.  But I don’t care.  This was the best damn soda bread – American or Irish – that I’ve ever had.  Forget the brick I almost picked up in Whole Foods for $5.49 on Monday that tried to pass for soda bread.  This was what I had been dreaming of making for years.  It had all the promise Deb talked about…a crunchy, craggy crust that leaves everyone fighting for the end pieces and a tender, soft interior studded with raisins and caraway seeds that seem to make soda bread what it is to me…addictive perfection.

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Irish (American) Soda Bread

source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Smitten Kitchen

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  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface (if necessary)
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 tablespoons softened, 1 tablespoon melted)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup currants or raisins
  • 1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the upper-middle position. Whisk dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt) in a large bowl. Work the softened butter into the dry ingredients with a fork, pastry blender or your fingertips until the flour mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Add the wet ingredients (buttermilk and egg), currants or raisins and caraway seeds, if you’re using them, and stir with a fork until the dough just begins to come together. Turn out onto a work surface (use some flour if the dough is sticky – it likely won’t be though) and knead until the dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy. You’re not going for a smooth dough — CI warns that this will make it tough.
  3. Pat dough into a round and place on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut a cross shape into the top of the round. Bake for 40-43 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees (this is especially helpful in this recipe, where doneness is hard to judge from the outside). Scones should be golden brown a skewer should come out clean. Remove from the oven and brush with butter before cooling to room temperature. Eat on day one.

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  • March 17, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    I’ve never made Irish Soda bread, and maybe I’ve never even tasted it either? This version sounds so interesting with the caraway seeds! It looks great – crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.

  • March 17, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    I’ve been negligent about making soda bread as well mostly from my childhood memories of it being god-awful and dry. Deb is definitely trustworthy. And yours looks like heaven. So i’m going to have to try it!

  • Annie
    March 7, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    I just pulled mine out of the oven. I made a double batch using your recipe, after looking at Cook’s Illustrated and Smitten Kitchen. The loaves came out beautifully, looking like huge hot cross buns. It feels like a very old fashioned bread…even with the larger “American” amount of sugar, still pretty austere. Yummy with butter, though, and I imagine great as toast! Happy early St. Patrick’s Day : )

  • Maggie
    March 13, 2013 at 1:52 AM

    I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking for a good recipe for Irish Soda Bread. This looks perfect and I can’t wait to try it. I recently moved from the Boston area to SC and can not buy anything that even resembles a good loaf down here. Thanks for this and I love your site, so many great recipes that I think I’ve died and gone to heaven as my mother used to say!

    • March 13, 2013 at 6:14 AM

      Thanks so much, Maggie! I know you’ll love this recipe and it’s really adaptable since not everyone loves raisins or caraway seeds in their soda bread. Come back and let me know how it turns out for you!

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