It seems to be that you either love Irish soda bread or you hate it.  It can be very dry and dense and not very flavorful.  Not being a fan of breads that are only good when slathered in butter I’ve never liked it much but having married into an Irish Catholic family (and in particular someone who would eat all bread products all the time if it were socially acceptable) that doesn’t really fly.

Ingredients for Irish soda bread

This recipe is a bit dense but that’s one of the necessary characteristics, and it only gets dry after sitting around for several days (which rarely happens in our house) and it’s definitely not lacking in flavor.  The orange zest is what really sets this apart.

Flour/sugar/baking soda/salt/butter mixtureButtermilk/egg/orange zest mixture

Chris and I made this Wednesday night before heading down to stay with his family on the Cape the next day.  Even my mother-in-law who doesn’t like raisins ate several slices, and my father-in-law kept asking questions about the recipe which is always a good sign!


Irish Soda Bread

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Makes 1 loaf

4 cups plus 1 tbs all-purpose flour

4 tbs sugar

1 tsp basking soda

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

4 tbs (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1 egg

zest of 1 orange

1 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the 4 cups flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer.  Add the butter and mix on low speed until the mixture has the consistency of soft sand.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients with the mixer on low speed.  Stir the 1 tbs flour into the raisins (this is to suspend them in the dough so they’re not all clumped together) and then mix in with the dough, which will be very sticky.

Dump the dough onto a (very) well floured surface and knead it a few times into a round loaf.  Place it on the cookie sheet and cut an X into the top with a sharp knife.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  It should have a hollow sound when you tap it.

Cool on a baking rack.  This is especially delicious warm and make the house smell amazing.  It can sit at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days, and is great toasted if it starts to get a little stale.  It should always be topped with butter, and strawberry/raspberry/orange jam if you’re feeling extra generous!