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Irish Soda Bread Print E-mail

This recipe is from Maggie's grandmother, Ann O'Conner. Most breads use yeast to make them rise. Irish soda bread, as you might guess, uses baking soda instead. The bread is denser than most yeast breads but has a great texture and a wonderful flavor!

You'll need:

  • 5 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 eggs - beaten
  • 1 stick of butter - softened
  • 1 1/4 cups of raisins
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups of buttermilk


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A large bowl
  • A large spoon
  • A cookie sheet
  • A butter knife
  • A little adult help
  1. Turn on the oven and let it heat to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the flour, soda, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
  3. Unwrap the butter and set the wrapper aside to use when greasing the cookie sheet.
  4. Mix the butter in with spoon.
  5. Add the raisins, eggs and sugar. Mix these ingredients in well. At a certain point you'll have to start using your hand. Scoop the dry ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl and gently push into the dough using your closed fist.
  6. Next add the buttermilk a little at a time. This is a good two-person job. One person mixes the dough while the other slowly pours the buttermilk. Stop when the dough becomes sticky.
  7. Shake a little flour onto the counter or a board.
  8. Take the dough out of the bowl and put it on the board.
  9. "Knead" the dough 10 times. Kneading means to fold the dough in on itself and then press down. You will want to turn the dough around after every so often. So fold and press, fold and press, then turn until you have kneaded the dough 10 times. This gives the bread a good texture.
  10. Cut the dough in half and shape it into 2 round loaves.
  11. Use the butter wrapper to put a thin layer of butter on the cookie sheet.
  12. Place the dough on the greased cookie sheet.
  13. Ask your aunt, or whoever is helping you, to shake a little flour on the blade of the knife and then spread it around. Repeat on the other side.
  14. Use the knife to "score" the top of the bread. To score means to cut into but not all the way through. Score the bread across the middle one way, then across the other way. The scoring is decorative but it also lets the top get extra crusty.
  15. Put the bread into the oven and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes until the bread is nice nutty brown.
  16. You can ask your adult helper to test the bread to make sure it is baked all the way through by inserting a skewer or a slim knife into the middle of the bread. If it comes out clean, with no dough clinging to it, the bread is done.
  17. Cool slightly before serving.

Checking to see if a bread or cake was baked all the way through was traditionally done with a "broom straw." Back in your great-grandmother's day, brooms were made of long, thin plant stems and the baker would break one of these off. The clean end - the end that didn't touch the floor - was inserted into the dough. If it came out clean the bread or cake was done.

Most brooms are now made of plastic, so use a skewer or knife instead.