Irish Soda Bread

I first tried making Irish Soda Bread during a year-long course studying the Irish Gaelic language. In an attempt to capture the full Irish cultural experience, I baked up Ina Garten’s recipe for Soda Bread with golden raisins, buttermilk, and orange zest. While this isn’t a traditional Irish soda bread, it is completely delicious. It has a combination of dark raisins and golden raisins as well as orange zest to infuse the loaf with a delicious citrusy flavor. I now make it every year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Soda bread is an easy way to get into making bread as it doesn’t require the yeast or time that is required of most bread recipes. Instead, it relies on baking soda in order to rise making it nearly foolproof for first-time bakers. Nonetheless, this is also a delicious recipe to add to a professional baker’s repertoire. It has a dense crumb, lots of orange flavor, and is studded with plump raisins. The top glistens with sanding sugar which adds a sugary crunch on the top of the loaf. I slather a warm slice with golden hued Irish butter and serve it alongside a warm and comforting bowl of Potato-Leek Soup. 

Irish Soda Bread

Yields 1 loaf

Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons very cold, cubed unsalted butter
  • 1 ¾ cups cold buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup regular dark raisins
  • Sparkling sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed until combined. Add the cubed butter and mix on low speed until the butter is incorporated into the flour, about 2 minutes. 
  3. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest. Pour liquid into the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in both types of raisins. The dough will be wet and sticky, but that is alright.
  4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Don’t handle the dough too much- you don’t want your hands to warm the butter. Place round loaf on prepared baking sheet and slice a cross into the loaf using a serrated knife, as shown in photo above. Sprinkle loaf with sanding sugar. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out crumb-free. Allow loaf to cool briefly before slicing and serving with butter. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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2 Comments »

  1. There’s a long tradition of enriching soda bread with a little dried fruit and fat (butter, usually). Spotted soda bread is a lovely tea bread and usually baked to be quite frugal in its additions (just ‘spotted’ with fruit). It also goes by the alternate name of Spotted Dick (not to be confused with the traditional English steamed pudding of the same name).

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    • Thanks for the background info Clive! A lot of people only make soda bread around St. Patrick’s Day, but I love making it year-round. It’s such a lovely breakfast, slathered with a little bit of butter and served with a cup of tea. Let me know if you try the recipe.

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