St. Patrick's Day Irish-American Soda Bread

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St. Patrick's Day Irish-American Soda Bread

star rating (17) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

Irish-American soda bread is a sweeter, lighter, more interesting riff on the original Irish soda bread, a simple combination of flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. No eggs, no sugar, no raisins or caraway seeds... all of those came later. And in America, land of "too much is just enough," the formula became richer still, with the addition of butter, and yet more sugar. The following soda bread tastes like a sweet, rich scone, a tiny bit crumbly but moist enough to hold together nicely when it's sliced. We bake it in a tall, round pan, to give it its classic shape. Though you can use raisins or currants, we prefer the tinier currants, as they spread themselves more evenly throughout the loaf.

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1/2 cup yogurt)
1 cup (5 ounces) currants or golden raisins, firmly packed
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon milk, for glaze
1 tablespoon coarse sugar, for topping

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and light-colored, about 2 minutes. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then 1 cup of the flour. Gently beat in half the buttermilk (or milk/yogurt mixture), then another cup of the flour. Add the remainder of the buttermilk, and the final cup of flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the currants and caraway seeds.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 8" x 3 1/2" round pan (or a 9" x 3" round pan), one whose capacity is at least 5 1/2 cups. A souffle pan or panettone pan is a good choice. Drizzle the milk atop the batter, and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the bread in a preheated 325°F oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the top for the final 15 minutes, if it appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the bread from the oven, wait about 5 minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a rack to cool. Allow the bread to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Yield: about 12 servings.

Alternatively, spoon the batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake the bread in a preheated 375°F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.


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  • star rating 03/09/2014
  • Wendy from Key Largo FL
  • It's that time of year again! Go ahead and make this one. Moist,tasty, not the dry stuff you ate as a kid just for St Pattys Day! I've made this recipe a few times and it is always enjoyed by all who try it. Good all year around but bring it to a St Patricks Day party and this recipe will make you proud.
  • star rating 09/14/2013
  • posideon3965 from KAF Community
  • I used a 9" springform pan and it worked beautifully. Reminded me of the bread my Gram used to make. Yum!
  • star rating 04/22/2013
  • Judy from Indiana
  • This looks like the same recipe that's in the Whole Wheat Cook Book. I've made it numerous times, not just for St. Pat's. The texture is more like a muffin or corn bread. I use 2/3's White Whole Wheat and 1/3 AP flour. Usually I make the buttermilk by adding vinegar to soy milk. Soy milk and yogurt work well, too. To keep down the saturated fat & cholesterol, I substitute Crisco for the butter and use 1 egg & ½ cup of egg white. I add in the caraway seeds, but usually leave out the currants and don't sugar the top. Sometimes I use poppy seeds instead of caraway. I bake it in a glass dish; it usually takes 80 minutes. I think it goes well with soup.
  • star rating 03/18/2012
  • cheryld from KAF Community
  • Love this bread--moist, tender and so tasty. My second loaf this week just came out of the oven. I had never tasted this kind of bread before, so I had no idea what to expect. This is fabulous!
  • star rating 08/28/2010
  • Zueen B from New jersey
  • I made this bread and it was a hit. Yummy every one loved it.
  • star rating 03/26/2010
  • TheWildOlive from Raleigh NC
  • I agree this bread is more like a cake or dessert than a dinner accompaniment. It was tasty, but not special enough that I would want to bake it again.
  • star rating 03/21/2010
  • T. Conner from Prescott AZ
  • Just wonderful. I used the lesser amount of milk and used sour cream instead of yogurt. Very tender and almost cake-like.
  • star rating 03/20/2010
  • David C from Voorheesville,NY
  • This was absolutely delicious, and I had to bake a second batch of these. I cooked mine in a glass souffle mould which I also use for panetonne, and it made a beautiful tall round loaf. It did reguire about 15 minutes more cooking time than given in the recipe. This will be a repeat every St. Patrick's Day in the future.
  • star rating 03/18/2010
  • DavoFromBmo from Baltimore
  • I don't know how authentic this is, but it is excellent. Pouring milk on the batter seemed strange, but it worked great.
  • star rating 03/14/2010
  • Lisa Reed from Huntington Beach, CA
  • I was under the impression this would be more like bread than cake. This recipe is very americanized especially because it includes dried fruit and a lot of sugar! I was looking for an authentic irish soda "bread." Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic light cake that would be great for any occasion!
    The Irish Buttermilk Bread might be more what you are looking for. mary@KAF
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