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St. Patrick's Day Irish-American Soda Bread

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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.

At a glance

Prep
Bake
Total
Yield
1 loaf, about 12 servings

Ingredients

Choose your measure:

  • 3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) butter
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1/2 cup yogurt)
  • 1 cup currants or golden raisins, firmly packed
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon milk, for glaze
  • 1 tablespoon sparkling white sugar, for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 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.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and light-colored, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then 1 cup of the flour.
  5. Gently beat in half the buttermilk (or milk/yogurt mixture), then another cup of the flour.
  6. Add the remainder of the buttermilk, and the final cup of flour, mixing until smooth.
  7. Stir in the currants and caraway seeds.
  8. Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan. Drizzle the milk atop the batter, and sprinkle with the sparkling white sugar.
  9. Bake the bread for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the top for the final 15 minutes, if it appears to be browning too quickly.
  11. 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.
  12. Store, well-wrapped, for 3 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to a month.