Irish soda bread is a bread that gets its rise from baking soda, rather than from yeast, which makes it perfect for days when you want homemade bread on a short timeline. The classic recipe gets most of its flavor from buttermilk, but the recipe is simple and it is easy to put a wide variety of twists on it, making both sweet and savory variations. This Cinnamon Raisin Irish Soda Bread was inspired by a buttery slice of cinnamon raisin toast that I had at a diner the other day. Generously seasoned with ground cinnamon and studded with raisins, this soda bread also makes fantastic toast – but unlike the yeast bread that I had at the diner, this loaf is ready to bake after just a few minutes of mixing.
The soda bread starts with flour, baking soda, salt and a bit of sugar. The bread is not sweet, but some sugar helps enhance the flavor of the cinnamon, which is also stirred into the dough. I used golden raisins and was generous with them, as I wanted to ensure that there were plenty of raisins in each slice of bread. Just before placing your loaf onto your baking sheet, dust the parchment paper with a bit of ground cinnamon (only directly underneath your dough). The cinnamon will warm up in the oven and bring a delicious aroma into your kitchen, as well as a bit of additional cinnamon flavor to your bread. The bread is slightly sweet and has a nice cinnamon flavor to it. It is denser than a yeasted loaf would be, but that makes it very easy to slice. It also stands up to toasting and a generous spread of butter – Irish butter, of course.
The loaf can be served slightly warm, but it is best to allow it to cool to room temperature before slicing. The bread is best on the day that it is made, but will still make excellent toast the day after. Fortunately, since this bread is so easy to make, you will almost always be able to find 5 minutes in your schedule to mix it up and get it in the oven when you want some freshly baked bread!
Cinnamon Raisin Irish Soda Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins (pref. golden raisins)
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust the parchment paper with a pinch of ground cinnamon in the area where you will place your loaf.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Stir in buttermilk and raisins, mixing until the dough pulls together into a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Dough will be sticky, but you should be able to shape it into a ball. Stir in raisins.
Shape dough into a ball and place on parchment paper. Cut two deep slashes (to form a +) on the top of the loaf.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and set.
Allow loaf to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf; Serves 8.