I turned a traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe into a fun mini treat, perfect for sharing on St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the year.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread is, like all “authentic” recipes, subject to strong opinions. Each household has their own version. They evolve over generations, follow families across oceans, and land in recipe boxes written in fading pencil on fraying index cards. (These are my favorite recipes.) RealSimple.com managing editor, Brenda Dargan-Levy, sent over her mom’s recipe for Irish Soda bread (with caveats). It looks like this:
- 3 cups of flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp baking soda
- ½ stick of margarine
- 1 egg
- 1½ cups raisins
- 1-2 cups buttermilk (gauge moisture of mixture)
Like so many heirloom recipes, Brenda offered just a list of ingredients without a method, the particulars of execution assumed, yet only really known by family elders.
Brenda notes: the mere fact that [Madge’s recipe] has white flour and raisins in it means that some would not consider it a traditional soda bread anyway. There are so many versions and variations, just like any recipe, I guess.
I took that as encouragement to modify Madge’s recipe ever so slightly. I swapped the margarine for butter (simply because that’s what we had in the kitchen), added ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, and a smattering of caraway seeds (1 tablespoon). Then, in a wild fit of inspiration, I divided the dough into smaller portions to make mini Irish Soda Breads, nice for sharing and appropriate for year-round enjoyment.
The method is pretty simple: Melt the butter. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the raisins and 1 tablespoon caraway seeds. Make a well in the center and add the melted butter, the egg and 1 cup buttermilk. I ended up adding 1¼ cups buttermilk total but, as Madge mentions, you may need a wee bit more or less. Mix together until no dry spots remain.
Divide the dough into 9 mounds, about ½ cup each, and divide among 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake in a 400°F oven until slightly risen and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. I took the liberty of brushing these with more melted butter when they came out of the oven but that’s optional. Not optional: slathering the soda bread in plenty of salted Kerrygold butter.
Big or small, this traditional Irish Soda Bread—along with a perfect cup of tea—is an excellent way to mark St. Patrick’s day. For a riff on the real thing, try our recipe for Irish Soda Bread With Cheddar and Dill. Just don’t skip the butter.