Irish Soda Bread

From June 28, 2006:  I will be teaching cooking and sewing/crafts to kids (ranging in ages from 3 to 10) at a summer camp next month.  I’m very excited about it.  I have been playing around with lots of recipes and this Irish soda bread is one I’m definitely going to do for the class.   I’m going to divide the dough up into fourths and let the children do mini loaves instead of one big loaf.  The four mini-loaves bake in about 20 minutes.  Pricking the surface of the unbaked loaves is an old Irish tradition to “let the fairies out”.  This is a nice bread for eating with a hearty stew or soup.  It’s also good with butter and cherry preserves.

Irish Soda Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
1 to 3 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups butter milk (or sour milk…1 1/2 T. lemon juice and enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups)
1 T. carraway seeds (optional)
1 cup dark raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray baking sheet (or round 8-inch cake pan) with cooking spray.

Combine dry ingredients and carraway seeds, if using in a mixing bowl.  Stir well to mix.  Gently mix in the raisins, if using.

Add the buttermilk and stir gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.  Dough should be soft, but not sticky.

Remove dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it is smooth, about 1 minute.  Form into a round loaf and place on the prepared pan.  Use a sharp knife to cut a deep cross into the top of the loaf.  Prick each quarter 3 or 4 times with a fork.

Bake the soda bread 45 minutes, until it is well risen, a deep brown color, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.  Cool the loaf slightly on a rack.  Serve warm with butter.

Irish soda bread is best eaten fresh.

Recipe adapted from the classic Irish cookbook, Full and Plenty:  Breads and Cakes by Maura Laverty(Anvil Books, 1985).


3 Comments on “Irish Soda Bread”

  1. #1 28 June 2006 – 21:45

    For kids (and adults) who don’t like raisins in baked goods, I have substituted chocolate chips in soda bread. Not as healthy, but they like it.
    User: jennybird

    #2 29 June 2006 – 18:11

    oh yum. i bet the chocolate chips are good in soda bread. i leave out the raisins and caraway seeds when i make irish soda bread.
    User: artichoke72

    #3 29 June 2006 – 19:13

    Funny, I always used 4 cups of flour and complain that it is too dense. I will try your recipe next time (sadly I made a bad one today). Hope things are going well- at least the camp sounds exciting.

    #4 08 July 2006 – 02:03

    Just an update: The kids loved making the Irish Soda Bread. They did a wonderful job (I was especially impressed with the 3 and 4 year olds classes) and loved mixing the ingredients, shaping their own loaves, and eating their creations. While the bread was baking, I had the kids shake heavy cream in a small mason jar to make butter. They thought that was pretty cool. 🙂

  2. Brent says:

    Just so you know you are not making Irish soda bread..You are making railway cake or spotted dog…raisins were never nor have ever been a part of soda bread. It has 4 ingredients..flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk.

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