Irish soda bread: With a crunchy and craggy crust and soft and crumbly texture, you’ll never want to buy Irish soda bread from the grocery store again!

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 Irish soda bread what it is to me…addictive perfection.

If you’re looking to make a classic Irish meal for this coming St. Paddy’s Day, let me beg you to make my Irish bangers and colcannon for dinner. And then make my Guinness chocolate cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish cream buttercream for dessert.

You won’t be sorry for making any of this food. I never am!

  • Prep Time: 20min
  • Cook Time: 40-43min
  • Yield: 1 round loaf

Notes

Because there are no preservatives in this soda bread aside from some salt, it won’t stay fresh for long. Make it on the day you plan to eat it and freeze the leftovers for another day.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface (if necessary)
1 cup cake flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp table salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter (4 tbsp softened, 1 tbsp melted)
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup currants or raisins
1 tbsp caraway seeds (optional)

Instructions

  • 01

    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.

     

     

  • 02

    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.

  • 03

    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.

  • 04

    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.

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Smitten Kitchen