Irish soda bread.

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by eating. All day long. Mostly meat.

My boyfriend was born in Dublin, Ireland and is therefore the authority on Irish foods for occasions like this. On Saturday we went and bought Irish bacon, bangers, black pudding, the right kind of beans, a brisket for corned beef and of course some Guinness. We had the corned beef for dinner but the rest went into a full fry-up for breakfast.


If you’ve never had a full Irish breakfast, well. It’s never good for you but it’s so good.

My task for the day was making the Irish soda bread. There are a lot—a lot—of different recipes for soda bread floating around out there. According to my Irish sources the true version of soda bread isn’t tarted up with currants, raisins, caraway seeds, orange zest or even eggs or butter. You can of course add these to taste but you really only need four ingredients to make a very tasty loaf of good Irish soda bread.

Now, I do not, historically speaking, have a lot of luck with breads, quick or otherwise. I can make pizza dough and cinnamon rolls just fine but I’ve never quite had any luck making bread. I’ve even been known to screw up banana bread and my many attempts at pint glass bread were all disastrous. And I really thought my soda bread was going to be horrid, too.


But it wasn’t, it turned out beautifully.

sliced bread

Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450. Measure flour by dipping method. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Stir. Gradually add buttermilk until moist dough forms. (If your dough seems too dry, add a bit more buttermilk.) Turn dough out on to floured surface and pat into a round. Do not overwork dough—this type of dough should not be kneaded. Place round on baking sheet and cut a large cross in the top, using a floured knife. Brush round with buttermilk and dust with flour. Bake for 30-45 minutes (mine took 35) or until top is golden and bread sounds hollow when you tap on it. Cool slightly; slice and serve with jam, Irish butter or whatever you like. Keeps for a couple of days wrapped in a paper bag.

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