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Irish Soda Bread

By adding egg, sugar, caraway seeds, and butter to a traditional Irish soda bread recipe, you create a loaf that is fit for a Sunday breakfast or brunch. Wrapped well with plastic wrap, it can be stored at room temperature until the last crumb is eaten. Like all Irish soda breads, this freezes well.

  • yield: 1 loaf
Photography: Mark Berenson

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 cups golden or dark raisins
  • 1 1/2 scant cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and caraway seeds until well combined.

  2. Step 2

    Using a pastry cutter or two knives in scissor fashion, cut in butter until the mixture feels like coarse meal. Stir in raisins until evenly distributed.

  3. Step 3

    In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and baking soda until well combined. Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour-and-butter mixture all at once, and stir with a fork until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture begins to hold together. It should resemble a rough biscuit dough. Using your hands, press the dough into a round, dome-shaped loaf about 8 inches in diameter. Lift the loaf from the bowl, and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.

  4. Step 4

    In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and cream together. With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the loaf. With a sharp knife or razor, incise a cross, about 1/2 inch deep, into the top of the loaf. Transfer to the oven. Bake, rotating halfway through, until it is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 70 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer bread from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, March 2000

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Reviews (19)

  • ConnieH 5 Mar, 2014

    BTW, the "scant" works by putting the vinegar in a 2 C measuring cup and then adding the milk until you have 1 1/2 C.

  • ConnieH 5 Mar, 2014

    This is the best Irish Soda Bread I ever ate! Sooo good! I make it with the "works" because I like ALL the added raisins, caraway etc. I also sprinkle caraway seeds on top before baking. Love, love, love it.
    I want to make 2 smaller loaves with the same amount of dough by splitting it because it makes such a big loaf but not sure about the baking time. Has anyone tried and how long did you bake it for? I want to share without having to cut it.

  • shells08957 14 Mar, 2011

    Scant just means "a little less". I haven't made this so I can't answer your other questions. I'm attempting to make this recipe sometime this week. I hope your class enjoys!

    I'm pretty sure it won't matter if you use raisins or currants.

  • malackyel 14 Mar, 2011

    Rasins or currants? Does it matter? I want to make this with my preschool cooking class. Can I divide the dough? Is it a smaller bread, how many smaller breads would I get out of one batch? And what is scant?

  • devitara 24 Nov, 2010

    This is, by far, my favorite Irish Soda Bread recipe. Making it has become a Thanksgiving tradition for the past four years and I highly recommend it for special occasions or holidays. I have found that it tastes best served fresh from the oven, or it can be made a few hours beforehand and wrapped in a cloth to keep it warm. Or, wrap it in plastic wrap as soon as it cools to keep it fresh, then take off the wrap and heat the bread for 10 minutes in an oven at 200 degrees prior to serving.

  • DivaDesires 17 Jun, 2010

    I didn't have buttermilk, so I used milk and substituted raspberry balsamic vinegar for 1/3 cup of the milk; I let the mixture stand until it thickened. I continued with the recipe as directed. OMG, it was delicious!

  • DessertFanatic 17 Mar, 2010

    I thought this bread was delicious. The best way I can describe this bread to someone who's never eaten it before is that the texture is similar to a scone... in my opinion. I didn't add the caraway seeds, since I have some very picky little boys. I definitely think I need to make this bread a St. Patty's Day tradition. My bread baked for about 45 minutes, and I do have an oven thermometer, so the temperature in my oven was accurate. I recommend this recipe--it's easy and really yummy.

  • myrottie 15 Mar, 2010

    what is a scant cup?

  • cortnymarie 18 Mar, 2009

    I made this for the first time yesterday. It is a WONDERFUL recipe! Very simple and very tasty. I used golden raisins (I'm not a big fan of the raisin, but in this recipe, they were fabulous).

  • chefbb317 25 Feb, 2009

    my grandmother is from ireland and she makes it with dark raisins since you were wondering.

  • productguy1 10 Oct, 2008

    tasty

  • mindy2windy 18 Mar, 2008

    My daughter and I made this bread, 2 to be exact. Although the recipe is easy to follow and relatively easy, the 2Tbs. of caraway seed was too much for our family. Smothered in jam was the way to go with the recipe. We made 2 so that my son could take one to share with his 3rd grade class and we received mixed reviews. It was something different and Irish for the kids on the Irish holiday. It was fun to do and will reduce the caraway seed the next time we make it.

  • dogandponygirl 14 Mar, 2008

    The McGeary family recipe is similar but no egg wash and it is baked in a greased, floured cast iron skillet.

  • dogandponygirl 14 Mar, 2008

    The McGeary family recipe is similar but no egg wash and it is baked in a greased, floured cast iron skillet.

  • dogandponygirl 14 Mar, 2008

    Mrs. McGeary gave me her family recipe and it is similar, but her secret is to bake it in a greased, floured cast iron skillet.

  • dogandponygirl 14 Mar, 2008

    Mrs. McGeary gave me her family recipe and it is similar, but her secret is to bake it in a greased, floured cast iron skillet.

  • jeralie 13 Mar, 2008

    For ten days this month, Panera Bakery is making Irish Soda Bread. They make it basicly the same as your recipe except they use currents. It is delicious. I think I'll try to make some.

  • christyspring 13 Mar, 2008

    Since I'm not from Ireland, (just love Irish cooking and have a few Irish "roots") I can't swear to the authenticity of the recipe - but I do know that it looks just like what I've seen many others make who purportedly had an "authentic" recipe handed down. I've only seen it with the dark raisins.

  • puckbunny 27 Feb, 2008

    I am a little curious about the raisins - are they traditional, and if so are dark or golden "correct"? Would like to be authentic as this would be a Saint Paddy's gift for my son's daycare director.

    Thanks!