Irish Soda Bread

17 Mar

Slainte, friends! It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Today I’ve avoided all green dyes, clover shapes and whiskey-flavors (in food, at least) in favor of sweet, Irish nostalgia. Irish soda bread is on the docket and perfect for your St. Paddy’s Day feast.


In days of yore when I walked in from school on St. Patrick’s Day, I could count on a few things. The corned beef was a-brewing, the Chieftans were a-blasting, and my mom greeted me in her best Irish accent. It was classic.


Along with all those things came my great grandmother’s Irish soda bread. I’ve learned to appreciate it in adulthood, but as a child I always thought of it as dense cake with raisins. Not cool. After pushing around the boiled cabbage on my plate, the last thing I wanted to do was pick the raisins out of my bread (much to my parents’ amusement, I’m sure).


Fortunately, I’ve come to embrace it for what it really is– a crusty, salty-sweet loaf best paired with a healthy slather of butter. Now we’re talking.


And so this fourth generation recipe lives on, along with my great grandmother’s sparkling Irish spirit. I’m fortunate that in my life I got to know her, and will always remember her enduring kindness, vigor and gumption. I’m also fortunate to share her middle name– Quinn. That’s my favorite part of all.


And so with Esther Quinn in mind I share this recipe. It’s simple, but an ode to reminiscence. It calls for regular and golden raisins, and I recommend sticking to it. One or the other will do just fine, but the two together give it a great color contrast and the golden are just a little bit sweeter.


Pair with your own Irish feast, and toast to the mother land. Erin go bragh!


Irish Soda Bread

Makes one 5×9 loaf, or two small 3×5 loaves


3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 stick butter, at room temp

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup dark raisins

1 cup golden raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In stand mixer, beat together butter and eggs until just mixed (butter will still be chunky, and that’s fine!). Alternate adding your flour mixture and milk to stand mixer, starting and finishing with the flour. Just as the dough/batter (the consistency will be somewhere in between) starts to come together, dump in your raisins and mix only until combined.

Pour dough into greased bread pan(s) and bake at 350 for 1 hour and 30 minutes. If the top of your bread is browning too quickly, turn the oven down to 325 for the last half hour.


2 hours (including baking)


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