A few years ago, Martha Stewart made Irish Soda Bread a “thing.” I found this to be yet another striking marvel of brand marketing. Stewart, the queen of home elegance and taste, turned a bread once relied upon by impoverished people to prevent starvation, into a trending delicacy. I suspect that my Irish ancestors would have had a tremendous laugh at the thought of an Irish Soda Bread recipe being coveted by the world’s elite.
Ingredients: Keep the Raisins
Irish Soda Bread was often made by many members of my large Irish-American family back home in Boston. And I dreaded it. Any time we visited a relative, someone inevitably confronted me with what I viewed as a raisin-filled monstrosity. My mother made a particularly good one, according to the people who liked this sort of thing, and frequently made it for a variety of special occasions rather than just St. Patrick’s Day. She drizzled a thin, vanilla icing over the top. This made it more palatable for my extremely picky, childish taste buds, but not much.
Later on when I was in my 20s, I got a job out of state and moved away. I found that the different foods of my childhood became more than just something I liked to eat. They brought back memories of Sunday mornings in our kitchen and dining tables at holidays filled with family. Raisins finally stopped looking like dead ants and started to pack just the right amount of sweetness.
The Irish Soda Bread Original
Irish Soda Bread traditionalists state that there are only four ingredients that make up this hearty staple. These ingredients are soft wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and sour milk. Adding anything else causes it to become a teacake (if only I’d had this knowledge when I hated raisins). This means that the versions I grew up on during the end of the 20th century were distant descendants that got fancy
Also, I learned that Irish Soda bread did not exist prior to the 1840s. It was the introduction of baking soda that brought about the bread. And the bread was a heroic invention of necessity. It saved countless people from starvation during Ireland’s brutal potato famine. Martha Stewart was right to celebrate it.
With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, I am sharing the Irish Soda Bread recipe my mother always made to great reviews. Don’t forget to spread some butter on top. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Maloney’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups of flour
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 and a ½ cups of raisins
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 and a ½ cups of sour cream
- Caraway seeds to taste preference
- Beat 2 eggs and set aside
- Sift flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and sugar together into a bowl.
- Add raisins (and carrway seeds if preferred)
- Add sour cream and oil
- Pour beaten eggs and mix with a wooden spoon. (batter will be stiff)
Grease and sprinkle a thin layer of flour over a bundt pan. (Multiple types of pans can be used. I have also used a loaf pan with great results.)
Transfer the batter into the pan using a large spoon since it will be difficult to pour.
Put in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until golden.
Icing drizzle: (My mother has no recipe for this step)
Mix powdered sugar with small amounts of milk until the consistency is where you like it. Drizzle over the top of the cooked bread. Grab a sharp knife, cut the loaf and enjoy!
Since it cannot be said too often: Don’t forget the butter.
Betsy Scotto-Lavino is the Director of Education and Research for The Artistic Fuel Foundation. She is also a Ph.D. student, wife, mother of three, and a nature lover. If you can't find me, I'm probably in the woods.