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Maud Herlihy's Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread is a St. Patrick's Day classic. Bill Herlihy, the executive in charge of "The Martha Stewart Show," shares a recipe from his mother, Maud.

  • Yield: Makes 1 loaf
Maud Herlihy's Irish Soda Bread

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, March 2010


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and frozen, plus more, softened, for skillet
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Caraway seeds (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack set in lower third of oven. Lightly butter a 10-inch round cast-iron skillet; set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter, sour cream and egg; mix, using a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in raisins, buttermilk, and caraway seeds, if using, and mix until a sticky dough forms.

  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured bench scraper, form into a round loaf; using a sharp knife score a large "X" in the center.

  4. Place in prepared skillet and transfer to oven. Bake until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. If top begins to brown too quickly, loosely cover with a piece of parchment paper-lined aluminum foil. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Reviews (19)

  • Oceanpeg 14 Mar, 2013

    Forgot to say that the butter is melted, cooled, before added to the buttermilk when using the green food coloring, which is also added to same. Otherwise you'll end up with white blotches in the Green Irish Soda Bread and 1/2 teaspoon of the Cream of Tartar is added to the dry ingredients. Just 3/4 cup of buttermilk used instead of 1 cup of buttermilk. The raisins are kneaded after mixing the liquid and dry ingredients together so no white spots from same. NO eggs or sour cream added at all.

  • Oceanpeg 14 Mar, 2013

    Forgot to say that the raisins are kneaded in AFTER the buttermilk mixture is added to the dry ingredients when using the green food coloring for the Green Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day. If the butter/margerine is cut into the dry ingredients, you will have white blotches in your Green Irish Soda Bread., the reason for melting the butter/margerine and adding it to just 3/4 cup of the buttermilk, with no eggs nor sour cream used in it and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar added to dry mix.

  • Oceanpeg 14 Mar, 2013

    Thought it would be similar to Mom's recipe for Irish Soda Bread which dates back to the 1940's that was published in the Newark NJs Star Ledger which doesn't call for sour cream nor any eggs in it at all, that has cream of tartar in it instead of those two ingredients. The butter/margerine is melted and added to the buttermilk mixture, and, if green food coloring added, it is added to this liquid mixture before mixing it with the dry ingredients for the St. Patrick's Day Green Irish Soda Bread.

  • KerryDe 12 Mar, 2013

    Excellent, just like my grandmother's recipe.

  • seven course dinner 4 Jun, 2012

    I felt the dough was extremely wet. Maybe cutting back on
    buttermilk would help.

  • irisheyes77 10 Mar, 2011

    I substituted 1/2c old fashioned oats and 1/2c wheat bran for 1c of the flour and skipped the raisins. This bread was very moist and I'll make it again, though it was a little sweet for my taste. I think next time I will cut back on the sugar and maybe a little less butter.

  • cori00 15 Apr, 2010

    I just made this bread. I substituted the buttermilk with milk and apple cider vinegar and I added cranberries, raisins and sunflower seeds.I want to make an extra batch to freeze. It's the best recipe!

  • GrandmomKathy 11 Apr, 2010

    I made this bread - it was so easy and so delicious. I did not have a bench scraper or a iron skillet, but bread was still great. My husband said this recipe is a keeper. Thanks for sharing. We give it 5 out of 5 stars.
    Kathy Wissmann

  • eeng880 9 Apr, 2010

    This bread is the best I have ever made. My husband isn't a bread guy and he loved it too.

  • CarolAnglen 2 Apr, 2010

    Is this dough supposed to be this wet?? It was about impossible to handle it, but it turned out delicious.

  • Aoife_Kerry 25 Mar, 2010

    Granddad Herlihy would have got great enjoyment from this!!!!

  • jerkfries 20 Mar, 2010

    5 out of 5 stars! Delicious, just like mom used to make. Try this recipe and you wont be disappointed. Thanks Bill and Tim.

  • jerkfries 20 Mar, 2010

    5 out of 5 stars! Delicious, just like mom used to make. Try this recipe and you wont be disappointed. Thanks Bill and Tim.

  • illymerc 20 Mar, 2010

    Does this recipe work well with a standard loaf tin. I don't have a skillet?

  • kitchenfirefly 18 Mar, 2010

    This is the best recipe for Irish Soda bread I've ever tried. I did substitute sprouted wheat flour (could not get Irish wheatmeal), reduced the raisins to 1 cup and added a tablespoon of caraway seeds. I used Irish butter and Annies organic buttermilk too. This one's going in the permanent recipe file. Thank you!

  • kade1967 17 Mar, 2010

    Absolutely delicious ! I left out the raisins because most of family does not like it in the soda bread, but made a second one fore me with them. This recipe is perfect. Happy St. Patrick's Day !

  • jemood 17 Mar, 2010

    I just made this soda bread for St. Paddy's day as well, and it is definitely a keeper. Moist, slightly sweet, delicious! Thanks, Bill, for sharing the recipe with us.

  • eurochica 17 Mar, 2010

    i just made this for st. patricks day and it came out so moist and tasty! a must try!!!

  • emherlihy 17 Mar, 2010

    Bill Herlihy..I shall try this strictly because of our shared last name. Are your ancestors from Annascaul?
    Eileen Herlihy (

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