For Saint Patrick’s Day: Irish soda bread, my way


I started making this a few years ago.  I’m not Irish, but Partner is one-half Irish, and he and I have been to the Auld Sod together, and we had a wonderful time there. 



I try to be a good wife, and it’s a traditional recipe, so –



But the original recipe is dry and uninteresting.  So I livened it up.  (Speaking of lively: you should hear my friends Apollonia and Cathleen go at it over whether or not to include caraway seeds.)



The result: Partner’s godmother’s sister, a full-blooded Irish-American, judged my version “the best Irish soda bread she’d ever tasted.”



(I’ve changed the recipe so much, it barely resembles the original.  But at least it still has some baking soda in it.)





For one loaf (recipe can easily be doubled and divided into two loaves):

        Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

        Sift together two cups flour, ½ tablespoon baking soda, a pinch of salt, and six tablespoons of sugar. 

        Add 1/3 cup shortening (or a bit more) to the flour mixture and blend with a fork until thoroughly mixed (it should look mealy and grainy when it’s ready).

        Add at least 2/3 cup raisins, or golden raisins, or dried cranberries, or even chopped prunes, along with ½ cup cold milk and a teaspoon of caraway seeds.  (I like them; some people don’t.  See the above comment re Apollonia and Cathleen.)

        Mix, but don’t overdo it, or the dough will toughen.

        Roll out on a floured surface into a round loaf.  Make a big X on top of the loaf with a sharp knife, and sprinkle the top heavily with sugar.  (You might even want to drizzle some honey on top.  Not too much.)

        Bake on a parchment-paper lined sheet for 20-25 minutes, until it’s lightly browned and sounds hollow when you tap on it.

        Wrap in a tea towel when you take it out of the oven. (I don’t know why, but my original recipe calls for this, and I always do it, and I think it’s cute.)

        Cool before serving.




And think of me as you enjoy it.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to For Saint Patrick’s Day: Irish soda bread, my way

  1. I have just realized that I seriously need to learn how to make Irish soda bread and I am terribly thrilled to stumble across this this morning. I didn’t want a canned recipe from a recipe site. PERFECT. And thank you so much for visiting my place, too. Cheers, and happy Sunday, Loren! — Melissa

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