irish soda bread

irish soda bread 1044

Tis the season for corned beef and cabbage, for green beer and green socks, and for soda bread.

Irish soda bread, to be exact.

For those of you who aren’t aware – Irish soda bread is a yeast-free bread, sometimes sweet and sometimes not, that is leavened with baking soda (hence the “soda” bread) and usually filled with things like raisins and caraway.  It has a bit of a reputation for being dense, dry, and bland.

I know what you’re thinking, “MY GOD THAT SOUNDS DELICIOUS! WHERE CAN I GET SOME!?”

Clearly nostalgia is playing a role in my desire to stuff my face with biscuit-like slices of dense flavorless bread.  However, since I was going to have a whole loaf of the stuff laying around, I wanted to make it palatable enough for FH to enjoy as well. Especially after he said that it sounded “absolutely awful”… and I really couldn’t argue with him on that topic.

Though soda bread is a popular Irish recipe, it’s not necessarily the most beloved St. Patty’s Day food on the planet.

irish soda bread 1028

So,  I decided to get to work on making an improved version of the traditional Irish soda bread. Our typical soda bread which is basically flour, butter, a bit of sugar, baking soda, caraway seeds, and raisins… got a bit of an overhaul.

Ok, maybe a lot of an overhaul.

I added buttermilk and egg to improve the texture, upped the sugar to increase the sweetness (read: flavor), nixed the caraway (but then felt guilty and added a pinch of cardamom), and replaced the rage-inducing raisins with dried cherries and currants. I tried really hard to think of a green dried fruit, and debated dying some golden raisins green (you know, for St. Patty’s Day!) but golden raisins are still raisins and raisins have NO PLACE in my baked goods. Or my life.


And although currants are very similar to raisins, I think it’s because they are super small and have a different flavor that they make me less angry. And dried cherries are delicious. Really you could use any fruit you like – I think dried apricots would go well in here, too (plus, I could possibly get them to a passable shade of green, maybe).

The result? Success! Big success.

irish soda bread 1036

Like FH-impressing success. (Although, I’ve been proving him wrong a lot lately)

The resulting bread had a much more tender crumb than your average soda bread with more flavor and a nice well-developed crust on the exterior. So even if you have tried (and disliked) soda bread in the past, give this one a try and I think you might change your mind.

irish soda bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 10-inch round loaf


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch cardamom
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup mix-ins (dried fruit of your choice)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice


  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients together.
  3. Add the butter and cut into the dough or incorporate with paddle attachment.
  4. Add the currants and stir to combine.
  5. Add the liquid ingredients (buttermilk, egg, and orange juice) and mix just until the mixture is moistened.
  6. Turn out onto lightly-floured surface and knead gently for a few turns (about 5 to 10 turns) until the dough forms a cohesive ball.
  7. Transfer dough ball to parchment-lined baking sheet and pat into 1-inch thick disk. Cut an "x" into the top of the dough, about 1/4-inch deep.
  8. Bake 35-45 minutes until exterior is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.


I mixed this in my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment, but you could easily use a large bowl and wooden spoon.

 soda bread pin

2 thoughts on “irish soda bread

  1. i can’t say this on my own blog b/c my grandma reads it, but i can say it here: my mom HATES irish soda bread. Why does this involve my grandma? because my grandma’s mother hails from ireland. we have a family recipe for irish soda bread. my grandma surprises (not really a surprise anymore) my mom every year with some on st. patrick’s day. my mom LOATHES THIS b/c she feels obligated to eat some and then gets mad at herself for using lots of calorie allowance on something she doesn’t even like. it’s a vicious cycle.
    i, on the other hand, love my grandma’s irish soda bread. why? because you get to slather butter all over that b**ch and eat it. and that’s the way it should be. you just have to know how to eat it is all.
    i like the currant/cherry combo here: especially cherries, which seem very inspired and delicious, right? i wonder what those dried fruits would taste like with caraway…i bet really good. i wonder if i should make soda bread now. chances are high that i do just that this weekend.

    • I love all carbs, including soda bread, BUT I understand that MOST people don’t enjoy soda bread (re: dry and bland). I was afraid of the caraway (hence the more friendly cardamom) but I started really wishing that I had put dried apricots in here while I was eating it. Cherries and apricots just sound like they would have been delicious in there with a bit of orange from the juice…. I think I’ll do that next.

      Spoiler alert: I made this into (delicious but not so photogenic) bread pudding. Recipe coming soon (probably this weekend).

Somethin' to say? Share it here!