As you may know, St Patrick’s Day is my favorite holiday. In fact, I love all things Celtic – even my wedding ring has emeralds and Celtic knots on it – and I’ve always had a thing for Ireland and the Irish people. I can literally take on a light brogue just thinking about it. (In fact, as I write this, I’m falling into it).
My affinity for Ireland dates back to before I can remember, so it should be no surprise that every St. Pat’s Day is a real celebration at our house. On that day each year, I serve up a feast of “Once-a-Year” mashed potatoes (so called because they are so rich and creamy you should only eat them once a year), slow-cooked corned beef, corn, cabbage, and soda bread; and then I usually throw in something new year to year to mix things up. But before even one fork full passes, I deliver my compulsory pre-St Patrick’s Day dinner monologue (which I will share with you one of these years) about the fascinating and inspiring life of the real man who become St Patrick. It takes all of about three minutes, and my kids sigh and groan and laugh through it every year. At this point, they can repeat it almost verbatim. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
(If you are interested learning more about St Patrick, I highly recommend reading How the Irish Saved Civilization [affiliate link] by Thomas Cahill.)
Today I am sharing with you one of my most prized St. Pat’s recipes: my Irish Soda Bread. Perfected and approved by real Irish persons, for your pleasure, this Soda Bread is amazingly easy to make.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup white sugar (Use ⅓ cup if you like your Soda Bread a little less sweet.)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups raisins (I use a mix of golden and craisions. Just use your favorite raisin.)
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (Optional.) (Not really.)
- 1¼ cups buttermilk
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup melted butter (I use salted butter.)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Brush on top:
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cast iron skillet or 9-inch round baking pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins and caraway seeds.
- In a medium bowl, buttermilk and sour cream and melted butter. Blend in eggs.
- Fold the flour mixture into the liquid mixture, mixing just until well combined. Knead dough in bowl about 10 to 15 strokes. Dough will be very sticky. Mound the dough in the prepared skillet or pan using a spatula or wooden spoon. (Don’t use a mixture for this – it will bake up too heavy.)
- In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbls. melted butter with 2 Tbls. buttermilk; brush the mounded dough/loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp, wet knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf.
- Allow dough to rest in the pan for about 20 minutes before putting into oven. (This step is optional, but the “rest” time will give you a lighter loaf in the end.)
- Bake preheated oven for 60 to 75 minutes. You can brush the loaf with the buttermilk/butter mixture once or twice during baking if you wish. Test loaf for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center – it should come out clean.
- Let cool and turn bread onto a wire rack.
Renewed post: originally posted 2014