Irish soda bread, like most recipes attributed by Americans to Ireland, has lean bones — in this case just flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk.
It’s a quick bread of the sort that became popular in the mid-19th century in America with the commercial availability baking soda and when half of all immigrants to the United States came from Ireland, many fleeing the potato famines that cost the lives of perhaps a million people.
And like most things American, this austerity is supplemented with modest luxury, here dried fruit and caraway.
The dough comes together in a less than 10 minutes with no particular skill or equipment, and bakes in fifty. It’s good hot, better cold, and lasts for a few days without going stale. Even a novice baker can turn out a loaf in less than the time it takes to preheat an oven.
And compared to southern biscuits, muffins or scones, Irish soda bread can be made without fat or sugar.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup raisins or currants
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seed
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Butter a baking sheet, pie plate, or spring-form pan.
- Mix together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl
- Add buttermilk and stir for about 30 seconds to combine
- Add dried fruit and caraway and mix until evenly distributed
- Turn out onto a lightly-floured work surface, and knead the mixture for another 30 seconds — less is more, you don’t want to overwork the dough
- Place the dough onto the buttered pan or sheet
- Lightly score an x across the surface of the dough
- Bake for about 50 minutes in a preheated oven
Adapted from Marion Cunningham