Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day

 What else could I possibly make today? 

Some of you might criticize my “inauthentic” choice to include orange zest, lemon extract, and even raisins in this bread.  To those people I say this: I’m German. 

We like our breads hearty, rich, and full of fruit, nuts, and other additions.  See: struan, aachen brot, mitsch brot, rye, kugelhopf, etc. etc. etc. 


Feel free to leave out any ingredients you deem extraneous.

Moving on.

My recipe comes from Ina Garten’s book, “Barefoot Contessa at Home.”  The original recipe is here.  I’ve made minor adjustments to the ingredients and the order of the directions.


4 cups all-purpose flour, plus one tablespoon for the raisins and a bit more
2-4 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons (57 g) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 3/4 cup cold buttermilk (or whole milk with 2 tbls white vinegar thrown in, then refrigerated for an hour)
1 large egg
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 splash lemon extract
1 cup dried currants or raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 375.  Measure the butter and put it into the freezer, if it isn’t there already.  Put the raisins in a bowl and pour the tablespoon of flour over them.  Stir or bounce to coat the raisins.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

3. Drop the butter into the flour mixture and stir until well-combined.

4. Pour the buttermilk (or milk and vinegar) into a measuring cup and add the egg, grated orange zest, and lemon extract.  Whisk.

 5. Add the buttermilk (or milk and vinegar) and stir on low until it just comes together.  Add the raisins.

6. Once it pulls together, sprinkle flour on your work surface, remove the dough from the bowl, and coat it with the flour.  Gently mold into a loaf.  You don’t want to knead at all, because you don’t want it to be tough.  You aren’t looking for gluten formation.

7. Using a sharp knife, cut an X into the top of the loaf.  Then move the loaf to a parchment-lined baking sheet and put in the oven. 

You’ve got about 45-55 minutes for it to bake, so why don’t you clean up the work space a little?

This is the worst.  That awful flour and dough mix left on the counter that only becomes worse when you try to clean it up with a wet sponge.

The solution?

Take your metal scraper and scrape all the little dough pieces first.

Then you can wipe off the counter with vinegar and a paper towel or sponge.  Done!

Now you have 43-53 minutes to admire your husband putting in the spring garden.  Hey sweetie!

8.  Once your soda bread is nicely browned and makes a thunk when you tap it, it’s done.  Take it out and let it cool.

Serve as you see fit.  By itself, with butter, or my favorite condiment: honey.  Finish with a big, frosty glass of green beer.  Just kidding.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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