Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I have always loved St Patrick's Day. In part
I'm sure because I'm Irish, but I also love the
food, the parties, the food, the parades, the food, the
green beer, the food, well, you get the idea. When I realized my post
was on St. Patty's, the hardest part was deciding what recipe to share.

Luckily, my friend Wendy made this
recipe the other day (she found it on and it sounded
so yummy I had to try it. The dudes were
not down with the original caraway seed
and raisin version, so I had to tweak it
a bit to make two loaves , one plain and one
fully loaded. I tried both, however, and as
my youngest said, "This is the best bread ever!"

Irish Soda Bread

5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and softened
2 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 large egg

1 1/4 cups raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet,
knocking off excess flour. Whisk together first five ingredients.
Mix buttermilk and egg in separate bowl then add to flour mixture
until dough is evenly moistened but still lumpy.
Transfer half of the dough to a well-floured surface and gently
knead with floured hands about 8 times to form a soft but slightly
less sticky dough. Pat into a domed 6-inch round on baking sheet.
Add the raisins and caraway seeds to the remaining dough and knead
on well-floured surface. Place on baking sheet with the plain loaf and shape
into another domed 6-inch round. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep X on top of each
loaf with a sharp knife, then brush loaves with melted butter. Bake in
middle of oven until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped,
40 to 45 minutes. Transfer loaves to racks to cool completely.

The nice thing about the epicurious website is that it also gave a wonderful
history about this traditional bread. Irish chef Rory O'Connell shares this
bit of information:

Bread soda (named for bread soda -- or baking soda) was introduced
in the early 1800s and it suddenly meant that people who didn't have
an oven—and virtually nobody had an oven then—could make soda
bread. They cooked the bread in what's called a bastible—a big cast-iron
pot with a lid on it that would have been put right onto the coals or onto
the turf fire. The great thing about soda is that it was not so perishable
and it would have been relatively inexpensive. And they would have had
buttermilk from the cows [old-fashioned buttermilk is a by-product of
making butter] and they would have been growing wheat, so they would
have had flour.
Read More:

Jenn McKinlay
Available Now!

aka Lucy Lawrence
Available for pre-order now!

Irish Toast: May your pockets be heavy and your heart be
may good luck pursue you each morning and night.

Don't forget about our contest! We’re celebrating cupcakes now that
SPRINKLE WITH MURDER is out in bookstores near you! If you’d like to
win cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop, send us an e-mail at or leave a comment with your
idea of the wackiest cupcake ingredients you can think of. Tofu, anyone?

To celebrate the April release of CUT TO THE CORPSE, I am giving
away an autographed copy of the book. All you have to do is visit
the contest section on my web page (
and cast your vote for Team Nate or Team Dom. For those of you who
read the first book in the series STUCK ON MURDER, you know that
our heroine Brenna is going to have to make a choice! Help her out
and cast your vote today!


  1. I love finding out the history behind soda bread. And the photo makes it look so delicious. Thanks for sharing and HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY.

  2. Interesting story! So the bread could be made inexpensively and without an oven--which means it was probably widely made for ages!

    What is it with kids and raisins? Seems like they like them okay in preschool, but it's a bear to get them to eat raisins after that (at least, in my house it is!) Thanks for both versions. :)


  3. O man. This looks awesome. I would love a slice of that with my morning cup of joe :) Happy St. Patty's Day!

  4. Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

    Amazing what you can do with a good bastible (great word, that). I once visited the house that my father's family built in Ireland around 1907, and it had the big fireplace with the thingy that swings out to hold the pot (the house is still there, but inhabited by livestock now, alas). And great-grandpa had a patch of turf down the hill, for fuel.

    Gotta love Epicurious, right? You have a piece of pork, a rutabaga, and three dried apricots, and they'll find a recipe for you.

  5. My little dude would definitely go for the plain version too!

    Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of the ladies of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!!

  6. Your soda bread looks beautiful, Jenn! I'm off to New York's parade - Have a great St. Patrick's Day!

    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Jenn, I love your Irish toast! I don't think I've ever eaten soda bread. With a cup of sugar, it must be fairly sweet. Which one did you like the better? The one with the raisins and caraway seeds or the one without? It looks beautiful!

    ~ Krista

  8. What a perfect recipe! Happy St. Patrick's Day!


  9. Happy St. Patty's Day!

    Mason, yes! I love researching food history!

    Yes, E, the raisin thing. What happened to the
    dudes love of raisins?

    JuJu and Krista - It is delicious with morning coffee and my fave was the raisin and caraway one. With a cup of sugar, it is sweet but the caraway seeds mellow it so it's not too sweet. Yum!

    Sheila - My fam is from County Cork (Contae Chorcaí). Yours?

    Janel- The dudes asked for the plain bread for snack! They really loved it.

    Cleo - I'm SO jealous. I would love to be at NYC's parade!

    Julie - Thanks! And Happy St Patrick's and St. Joseph's day to you!

  10. Love the toast! The sentiment. And love the soda bread. With caraway. Who knew? Thank you for sharing! Sheila, my grandmother's side was from County Cork. Traynor is the last name.


  11. a great story... seen a lot of these, I like the posts with great stories!