St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, and it’s time to break out the classic Irish recipes everyone wants and expects at this time of year. This is a recipe passed down from my Great-Great-Aunt Lizzie Reilly for a soft and delicious loaf of Irish Soda Bread.
I have tasted some less-than delicious loaves of Irish Soda Bread in the past: dry, crumbly, disappointing, undoubtedly not served while fresh. This is a bread with a short shelf-life, and it is meant to be enjoyed quickly. If you serve up this bread the same day it is baked, preferably still warm and with lots of butter, it will be gobbled up by your grateful, hungry fans!
This is a speedy bread recipe, with a minimal amount of kneading so it is easy to pull together. Caraway seeds and raisins are traditional flavorings and this recipe has both.
A quick survey of other Irish soda bread recipes out there showed about a 50-50 split of some including caraway seed, some not. Some recipes included cinnamon instead or dried currants in place of the raisins.
I followed my family recipe exactly until I got to the raisins. The family recipe called for only one half-cup. Recalling the disappointing, dry loaves I have had in the past, and because I like raisins quite a lot I doubled the amount to one cup.
The result is a lovely looking and lovely scented soft bread. Brushing the loaf with buttermilk while it bakes gives the top a luminous glow. The caraway seed gives the bread a distinctive, savory note. The doubled-up quantity of raisins give moisture and sweetness.
If you have had less-than-stellar Irish Soda Bread in the past I hope you will give it and this recipe a try. It is a homey little bread, perfect for breakfast or with tea in the afternoon. The recipe is below.
And if you are looking for some more ideas for Irish dishes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or enjoy any old time, here are some suggestions!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!
Aunt Lizzie's Irish Soda Bread
- 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting a work surface during the kneading phase plus extra for dusting a work surface during the kneading phase
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup buttermilk, divided
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease an 8" round baking pan.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and caraway seed in a large bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Add in the raisins and toss to mix them into the flour mixture.
- Using about 2/3 of a cup of the buttermilk, stir it into the dry mixture a little at a time, just until you have a soft, somewhat sticky dough.
- Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the floured surface. With floured hands, knead a few times until the stickiness is gone and the dough is smooth.
- Shape the dough into a rounded loaf. Place the loaf into the greased baking pan. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut a slash or a cross in the top of the dough.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees Brush the top of the loaf with some of the remaining buttermilk.
- Continue to bake the loaf for 35-40 minutes more, brushing the top with buttermilk 2 to 3 more times during baking. The finished loaf will be browned and sound hollow when tapped.
- Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out of the pan and onto a cooling rack. Allow it to cool about 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with butter.
- This bread is best served on the day it is baked. Once the bread is cooled completely, it can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to one additional day.
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