One of my oldest and fondest childhood food memories is the first time that I was introduced to Irish Soda Bread. At the time we lived in Spring Valley NY. My neighborhood friends, Sean, Kirin and Deirdre Murphy were from Ireland and their aunt Carole was the first person to serve me Irish Soda Bread. I don’t remember details about the bread itself but what has stuck with me for 40 years is how she served it, and the combination of flavors that I experienced. Imagine being 8 years old and a curious eater with a sweet tooth when someone places in front of you a slice of fresh bread topped with strawberry jam and freshly made whipped cream – I was in heaven!
When I opened my first bakery (The Sturbridge Bread Company), and in every bakery/ restaurant since, I have made this recipe for Irish Soda Bread. I love introducing people to the combination of this bread with Jam and cream and seeing the joy on their faces the first time they try it.
This bread is also delicious served with stew or corned beef and cabbage, as is or with some cultured butter but I urge you to try it at least once with jam and cream.
IRISH SODA BREAD
I personally love the combination of the tart caraway seeds and the sweet raisins in this bread but feel free to leave out either or both if you prefer. This recipe also works well with King Arthur Measure for Measure or Bob's Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flours.
- 4 Cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 oz butter ½ stick
- 1 cup raisins or currents
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
Place 1/2 stick butter in the freezer.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
.Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend.
Remove butter from the freezer and, using a box grater , shred the butter into the flour mixture and quickly rub it in until coarse crumbs form and it is evenly distributed.
Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.
Add buttermilk to dough.
Using a wooden spoon (or your hands), gently fold the dough together until it is too stiff to stir. With lightly floured hands on a lightly floured surface, work the dough into a ball as best as you can. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds or until all the flour is moistened. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Do not overwork the dough or your bread will be tough and chewy.
Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Using a very sharp knife, score an X into the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown and center appears cooked through, about 45 minutes. Loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil if you notice heavy browning on top
Remove from the oven and allow bread to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted with your favorite spreads & toppings.
Cover and store the bread at room temperature for 2 days or well wrapped in the freezer for up to 1 month.