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
- 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
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!