Thursday, December 2, 2021

Irish Soda Bread, Take One @LucyBurdette


LUCY BURDETTE:  For some reason I had decided I was not a fan of Irish soda bread. Maybe I had a bad loaf somewhere, sort of like a bad clam? I can't exactly remember. However, a few months ago I went into my favorite Connecticut bakery’s pop-up event and noticed that their soda bread looked delicious. I bought a loaf and we gobbled the whole thing. This is my attempt to recreate it, using the website Sally's Baking Addiction as a starting point.  Next time I make this (and there will be a next time,) I would add another tablespoon of sugar and also a tablespoon or more of zested orange peel. I will also try substituting my uncle’s dried Michigan cherries for the raisins.


1 and 3/4 cups buttermilk or milk with added 1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 large egg 

4 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for your hands and the counter

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

5 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 cup raisins

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

I've gotten in the habit of not buying buttermilk, because I usually end up throwing half of it out. And it is higher in sodium than regular milk. If you want to use buttermilk, have at it. If you would like a substitute, squeeze half a lemon into a two-cup measuring cup and fill to the one and 3/4 cup mark with whole milk. Set that aside to come to room temperature. Whisk it together along with one egg.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, the flour, the sugar, the baking soda, the salt, and the caraway seeds. Stir in the raisins.

Cut 5 tablespoons of very cold butter into the dry ingredients. The colder the butter, the lighter the batter. 

When the butter is pea sized, carefully fold in the egg and milk mixture. 

Move the batter to a floured surface (I used parchment paper with a little flour sprinkled on it.) Flour your hands and knead the dough briefly into a round. Again, shorter is better, even 30 seconds. 

Move the batter to a prepared greased pan. (This can be a pie plate, a cake pan, or cast iron skillet.) Those round pans help the bread keep its shape. Once in the pan, make a cross in the batter with a sharp knife.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 25 minutes. You can check the bread halfway through to see if the top is getting too brown. If so, cover with foil for the second half of the baking.

Let the loaf cool for ten minutes or more before you slice it. Serve warm with more butter and possibly raspberry jam, or for breakfast, maybe with peanut butter?

In addition to Lucy's Key West food critic mysteries, she's written a thriller called Unsafe Haven! Hardcover and audio will be out this week.

About Unsafe Haven
A chance meeting on the New York subway leads to the destinies of two very different women becoming intertwined with terrifying consequences in this nerve-jangling thriller.

Sixteen-year-old Addison is on the run. She's leaving her life on New York's streets behind for a new one with Rafe, armed with just his phone number on a scrap of paper. She's taking the subway to meet him in New Jersey. He'll take care of her. Or so she thinks . . .

Elizabeth Brown's world has fallen apart and she's thinking about her newly ex-fiancé. Until she locks eyes with a teenage girl while waiting for the train doors to open, and a bundle is thrust into her arms as she leaves the subway. A baby, wrapped in a dirty coat.

Elizabeth phones the number she finds in the coat pocket. Then wishes she hadn't. Someone wants Addison and the baby. And they'll do whatever it takes to get them . . .

In a major departure from her lighthearted Key West mysteries, Burdette invites readers into the world of a chilling thriller. (Unsafe Haven is) a page-turner highlighting the problem of exploited runaways.

—Kirkus Reviews

If you'd like a nibble before you buy, read the first chapter here. And if you'd like to read more about the genesis of the book, read this post from Jungle Red Writers.

Ways to buy your copy of UNSAFE HAVEN:

Book depository 


Barnes and Noble 


Severn House 

And if this is not in your budget (which I totally get,) you can invite your local library to order a copy!


  1. The first time I had Irish soda bread was at the 150 year old Landmark Tavern on 11th Avenue in NYC. I loved it and I bet it would be delicious with your uncle's cherries!

    1. I bet it will, I plan to make it around Christmas! thanks Peg

  2. Well done, you! You went back and tried again.
    We try to tell our kids to re-try foods. You never know when your taste buds or the prep will change.
    Dried cherries sound great. Think about it with some chopped chocolate added?

    1. Oh chopped chocolate, that would be almost dessert! PS Libby, your recipe got a ton of traffic:)

    2. <3 <3 <3

      Nothing wrong with dessert!

  3. I love Irish soda bread! Dried cherries would be a great subtitution for the raisins. I've never had caraway seeds in Irish soda bread before. The week before St. Patrick's day, Fred Meyer grocery stores on the west coast sell a special Irish soda bread which is delicious. Since they are a part the the Kroger chain, Kroger's on the east coast might also feature it.

  4. Thank you for this recipe! I'm in the mood to try a new recipe and this is perfect. A friend & I had lunch at our local tearoom Tuesday. She is set for a two-week tour of Ireland in 2023 so I'll make a loaf of this bread & give it to her just to pique her excitement.