web analytics

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Irish soda bread is dead easy to make. It can have as few as four ingredients and uses no yeast, relying instead on the reaction between baking soda and buttermilk for leavening. This produces a reliable rise every time, no matter how inexperienced you are are baking. The four base ingredients are flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt.

Irish soda breads are slightly denser than most breads because they have no yeast. They do no have the means to develop any of the nice, open holes that can be seen in, for example, french baguettes. The loaves are very quick to make, however, and the slight denseness makes them tasty and unique. Ths hearty bread pairs well with soups and meat dishes. The crust that develops as it bakes means that it makes outstanding toast, too.

Another good thing about soda bread is that it is versatile, especially in terns of flavors. While the base can be very plain, you can add carraway, which is fairly traditional, or currants for a sweeter bread. I like adding a mixed variety of raisins to mine and a pinch of sugar, which helps with browning. Some people use all whole wheat flour in their soda breads and others like to keep them lighter by using only all-purpose flour. While any combination of all purpose and whole wheat flours will work, the best variation, in my opinion, uses 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup oat flour. The whole wheat flour gives it a distinctive taste and the oat flour keeps the bread a little bit moist.

Whip this up when you walk in the door after work and let it cool while you prepare dinner. The bread should be cooled completely or almost completely before slicing.

Irish Soda Bread
2 cups flour (all purpose or half whole wheat*)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
7/8 cup buttermilk (plus 1 tbsp, if necessary)

Preheat oven to 400F.
Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and caraway seeds. Stir raisins into the flour mixture. Pour in buttermilk, adding an additional tablespoon, if necessary, and mix into shaggy ball.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead four about 2-3 minutes until the ball is fairly smooth. Form into a 6-inch, rounded ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut a deep cross in the top with a sharp knife.
Bake 32-35 minutes, until the top is well browned. A toothpick will come out clean when inserted into the center.
Cool almost completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf, serves 6-8.

*Nic’s favorite flour combination, pictured above: 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup oat flour

Share this article

  • Chloe
    March 16, 2006

    Wow that does sound easy! Is it sweet? I might have to make this tonight!

  • Nic
    March 16, 2006

    Hi Chloe – No, it is not sweet apart from the raisins. This is a savory bread.

  • CameraDawktor
    March 16, 2006

    You were reading my mind with this post….but I suppose all the recipe bloggers are thinking about the same thing right now!!

  • ~~my~~
    March 16, 2006


    I tried making whole wheat Irish soda bread once, Bec i want to exprience kneading a less sticky bread. The ingr were
    4 c whole-wheat flour
    2 c flour
    1 t salt
    1 t soda
    1/2 t sugar
    1 c skim milk
    1 t lemon juice
    And the result was a very hard bread LOL, i didnt liked it, alhtough i did experience how to knead a bread properly Ü

  • emily
    March 16, 2006

    I’ve never had Irish Soda bread,but I’ve heard so much about it.I think it may be time to take the plunge.

  • J
    March 17, 2006

    hi nic, thanks for sharing that wonderful tip on blending all purpose with whole wheat and oat flour – it sounds like just the thing for ensuring a full-flavoured loaf that’s moist

  • farmgirl
    March 17, 2006

    That is most definitely the tastiest looking loaf of Irish Soda Bread I have ever seen. Great photo. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Nic! : )

  • MusicalMom
    March 17, 2006

    Thanks for the recipe–I made it tonight and it went very well with our corned beef and cabbage. 🙂

  • Cathy
    March 18, 2006

    Hi Nic – I made Mrs. D’s whole wheat version a while back and loved it. I really like the sounds of your flour mix including oat flour.

  • Kate
    March 18, 2006

    I didn’t see you post before I made a loaf of my own soda bread–but it turned out nicely! Our recipes are a little different. Yours looks more like bread than mine, which was a little scone-y. It was great, though. =) Lovely post! I just wrote about mine. =)

  • Shauna
    March 19, 2006

    Ooh, this looks good, Nic. I adore Irish soda bread. It’s one of the few breads I miss. (I was so happy to make up a good, gluten-free recipe this week!) As always, you continue to do do wonders here.

  • joy
    March 19, 2006

    My brother popped by my apartment after he got out of school and was more than a wee bit bored. I suggested he cook something. So he did. He baked your soda bread and it was lovely. My mum came ’round and we ate it with hot tea.

    Thanks for helping us create a happy memory.

  • Dixie
    March 20, 2006

    Thanks for the great recipe. We are lovers of soda bread and this is our favorite recipe yet. Plus it makes the perfect size loaf.

  • pumpkinpie
    March 26, 2006

    Thanks for the recipe! I tried your proportions (1 1/4 c all-purpose, 1/2 c whole-wheat, 1/4 ground oats) in a dark chocolate, candied ginger and dried apricot soda bread. It is fabulous! I served it with a dried-cranberry goat cream cheese spread.

  • strach
    March 10, 2007

    I made this last St. Pat’s and loved it. Nicole (or anyone else here) — Can the dough be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated/frozen?

  • Ann E
    March 11, 2008

    Love your Blog, and so pleased to see your Recipe for Soda Bread, my Grandmother called Soda Bread with Currants or Raisins “Fly Bread”. This was the Northern Ireland name for Soda Bread of this type. Thank you for reminding me of my Childhood!

  • Steve
    March 23, 2009

    Being an Irishman myself, I can remember my mother making Irish soda bread. The recipe was a little different but it definitely tasted great.

  • […] it, as well as raisins, and turned into a very cake-like loaf. I myself am guilty, to a degree, of making a less-than-traditional loaf. I don’t use butter or eggs, but I usually add a bit of sugar, caraway seeds and raisins. Not […]

  • […] Irish Soda Bread with Raisins (I used Nic’s flour combination) […]

  • […] read and read all sorts of versions and variations and finally settled for a basic one. I followed this recipe for the flour combination but turned it into a savoury bread by adding a teaspoon of mixed […]

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *