Irish Raisin Bread

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Hands-on time:
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Yield: 1 loaf

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This soft sandwich bread, studded with raisins, is our American take on "fancy" Irish bread. While everyday Irish bread is made with baking soda and whole wheat flour, ours has just a touch of whole wheat; adds yeast to the leavening, and begins with an overnight starter, which improves flavor, texture, and keeping qualities. The raisins are a salute to American-Irish soda bread, typically made with both raisins and caraway.

Irish Raisin Bread

star rating (7) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time: Overnight,
Yield: 1 loaf
Published: 10/26/2011




  • all of the starter
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons potato flour or 1/3 cup instant potato flakes
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 cup golden raisins, dark raisins, or a combination; or currants


  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Tips from our bakers

  • We like to bake this bread for New Year's Day. Irish tradition designates January 1 "Day of the Buttered Bread." An old custom involved placing bread-and-butter sandwiches on the doorstep, to show that all within were well-fed — a talisman against famine in the coming year.
  • Why use a starter to make this bread? It's not sourdough, not particularly "artisan..." We find that a simple overnight starter both enhances bread's flavor AND its keeping qualities; the short amount of "extra" fermentation raises the bread's acidity level just enough that it stays fresher longer.
  • If you use currants instead of raisins, you'll have a greater distribution of fruit throughout the loaf, due to currants' smaller size. How about if you simply increase the amount of regular raisins, for more fruit in each bite? We tried that, and found increasing the raisins slowed fermentation considerably, and also affected the bread's final rise, due to sugar leaching from the raisins into the dough. It made a nice loaf, for sure; but it was denser. If that's what you're after, use 2 cups raisins, and bake in a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
  • Omit the cinnamon topping, if desired; it's not critical, but adds a nice hint of spice. The topping amounts as written make more than enough; we did it that way simply because it's easier to measure a tablespoon each confectioners' sugar and water than 1 1/2 teaspoons each. Drizzle the excess over your morning oatmeal!
  • This bread makes a marvelous grilled cheese sandwich. Slice bread, and spread one side of each piece with mayonnaise (yes, mayo; it makes a beautifully crisp, golden brown crust). Top bare side (no mayo) of bottom slice with Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar and thinly sliced Granny Smith apple. Top with remaining slice, mayo side out. Fry slowly in a lightly greased pan, until bread is golden brown and cheese has melted.


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1) To make the starter: Combine the flour, water, and yeast in a small bowl, mixing until all of the flour is moistened. Cover the bowl, and let the starter rest overnight (or for up to 20 hours or so), at room temperature; it doesn't need to be placed somewhere warm. It will expand and become a bit bubbly.

2) To make the dough: Combine the starter with everything except the raisins. Mix and knead to make a smooth, soft dough. The dough will seem dry at first, but as you knead it'll soften up.

3) Place the dough in a greased bowl or greased 8-cup measure, cover it, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it's noticeably puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk.

4) Gently deflate the dough. Knead in the raisins; your hands are the best tool here.

5) Shape the dough into a log, and place it into a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan. Cover the pan with a large overturned bowl, or tent it lightly with greased plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until it's crowned about 1/2" to 3/4" over the rim of the pan, 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

6) Uncover the bread. Mix the cinnamon, sugar, and water, and brush it over the loaf.

7) Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until it's golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers at least 190°F.

8) Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap airtight, and store at room temperature for up to 5 days; for longer storage, wrap well and freeze.

Yield: 1 loaf.


  • star rating 01/21/2015
  • lindag from KAF Community
  • I really struggled with this recipe. I simply could not work the raisins into the dough, the dough was just too stiff. I ended up with most of the raisins on the surface of the loaf which caused them to burn. Perhaps I used too much flour and my dough was too dry. We are sorry to hear that you had a hard time working in the raisins, but I think you are on the right track with your problem solving--it sounds like your dough was a bit dry, which made it tough to incorporate the dried fruit. Be use to lightly spoon your flour into your measuring cup to get the accurate amount and don't be afraid to add a few extra tablespoons of water if it looks dry to you. Trust your judgement, it seems like you've got good baker's intuition! I encourage you to give it another shot! Kye@KAF
  • star rating 03/12/2013
  • tht523 from KAF Community
  • This bread was easy to make, with good flavor. Makes good raisin toast for breakfast. My raisins did tend to end up on the perimeter of the bread, so I guess I need to incorporate them better next time. A good alternative to a soda bread, as it is a little lighter. I am not sure of the purpose of the teaspoon of baking soda in a yeast bread.
    You'll want to add the ingredients listed for best results! The starter that includes 1/8 teaspoon yeast is about the flavor of using a starter in a recipe as well as using the baking soda to give this bread it's best rise. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF
  • star rating 07/16/2012
  • cooker69i from KAF Community
  • It turned out perfect. I make it with Raisens and also without for a wonderful White Bread. I have tried many recipes and this one is what I was looking for.. I also converted it for the Bread Machine, first using the "Dough Mix" setting when the Sponge is ready, and then resetting to the "Bake Only" with the paddle removed. Soooo tender inside with crunchy crust. ' Bake Only with the
  • star rating 04/22/2012
  • ferndale52 from KAF Community
  • nice fine texture. taste is just OK. liked the use of different types of raisins.
  • star rating 04/14/2012
  • kathysandefur from KAF Community
  • I used one cup of my sourdough starter in place of the recipes starter and added about a half cup or so of Harvest Grains to the dough. I shaped the dough into 16 rolls in a 9x13 pan and baked them for just under 20 minutes. They came out wonderful, very soft and very tasty. I will definitely make these again.
  • 11/12/2011
  • chrissha214 from KAF Community
  • For some reason mine did not rise like it should. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you
    I am sorry this recipe did not rise as well as expected for you. There are many factors affecting the rise. The amount of flour, type of flour, the kneading process and type of yeast are just a few of the factors responsible for bread rising or not rising. Please call our Bakers' Hotline for further assistance, 1-800-827-6836. Elisabeth
  • 11/09/2011
  • Nathan from Calgary, Canada
  • Could I use my sourdough starter, instead of making a starter specifically for this recipe? The 2:1 flour water ratio is the same, so I'm assuming I wouldn't need to adjust anything else?
    Yes, using 1 cup of fed starter should work in this recipe, although it will lend a different taste to the finished baked good. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

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