This is an amazing recipe for sweet Irish soda bread. A moist, aromatic bread with raisins and caraway seeds.
Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
I remember the first time I baked this sweet Irish soda bread. I was so delighted by it, I couldn’t stop talking about it for days… I think I was quite annoying, most people don’t get so enthusiastic about a good recipe as I tend to do…
It was love at first bite. Soft and not overly sweet, with those little juicy raisins, and the best of all, the slight caraway flavor, which is just amazing! Please, even if you think you are not much into caraway, don’t leave it out, it really belongs to this Irish bread!
What is soda bread?
Soda bread is a quick bread made without yeast. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is used as a leavening agent instead.
There are countless versions of it out there, but the true original is only made with four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk.
You can make it with wholemeal or white flour or with a combination of both. The wholemeal version is sometimes known as wheaten bread or brown bread, depending on the region.
The shape of the bread seems to be region-specific as well. Depending on where you bake it, it could be a loaf, a round bread, it could be a flattened dish or a triangle.
I did bake quite a few loaves of soda bread, Irish or not, but I have to say that today’s slightly sweet version made with raisins, and caraway seeds is my absolute favorite.
It is not quite a traditional recipe, the soda breads I baked more often were not sweet at all, this one is rather cakey, soft, and comforting and more delicious than any other I’ve ever baked.
Interested in a newspaper soda bread recipe from 1836?
“put a pound and a half of good wheaten meal into a large bowl, mix with it two teaspoonfuls of finely-powdered salt, then take a large teaspoonful of super-carbonate of soda, dissolve it in half a teacupful of cold water, and add it to the meal; rub up all intimately together, then pour into the bowl as much very sour buttermilk as will make the whole into soft dough (it should be as soft as could possibly be handled, and the softer the better,) form it into a cake of about an inch thickness, and put it into a flat Dutch oven or frying-pan, with some metallic cover, such as an oven-lid or griddle, apply a moderate heat underneath for twenty minutes, then lay some clear live coals upon the lid, and keep it so for half an hour longer (the under heat being allowed to fall off gradually for the last fifteen minutes,) taking off the cover occasionally to see that it does not burn.”
How to make?
- Making soda bread is easier than making any other kind of bread.
- And another bonus: this Irish soda bread with raisins is 100 % made with pantry ingredients. You can even make the buttermilk yourself by mixing milk with lemon juice or vinegar.
- You will not need any yeast, and that means that the bread will not need time to rise either.
- There is also no kneading involved at all and that is always good.
- All you have to do is to stir the ingredients, shape, and bake the bread.
- And don’t forget to slash the shaped bread before putting it in the oven, the slash prevents cracking and it helps the center of the bread to bake through.
- Buttermilk is very important as it reacts with the baking soda to provide the bread’s leavening.
- As buttermilk is not something you always have in the house and as you need such a small amount, you can make your own buttermilk by adding 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar to 150 ml/ 45 fl.oz/ 2/3 cup milk.
- Orange zest and some orange juice, they (especially the zest) add a wonderful flavor.
- Omit if you don’t like orange zest and replace the orange juice with more buttermilk.
- I used a mixture of raisins and cranberries. I love the tarter cranberry taste, that is why I often combine them with the very sweet raisins.
- However, the cranberries are optional, you can replace them with more raisins if you wish.
- My favorite thing about this Irish bread is the caraway flavor, I wouldn’t leave it out.
- It is not mandatory for the success of the baking process, but flavor-wise it is incredible.
Store and freeze
- Soda bread keeps well for several days. I usually keep it at room temperature, wrapped in a clean kitchen towel.
- If kept in the refrigerator, it will keep well for 5-6 days.
- It is fluffier and softer on the day you baked it, and it gets slightly firmer and chewier during the next days. However, that is not a bad thing: the bread tastes just as delicious!
- It also freezes well for up to 3 months.
- To freeze, let cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap/ cling film, place in freezer bags and freeze.
- You can also slice it, place in freezer bags and freeze. This way you can only thaw a few slices if you wish.
- Let thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter, it will take a few hours, less if the bread is already sliced.
- Freshly baked sweet Irish soda bread with a little butter is more than amazing.
- You can also spread some jam, honey or nut butter on top for a super indulgent, delicious breakfast (or snack).
- I’ve read about serving sweet Irish bread with corned beef and cabbage, but honestly, I am not very tempted to try it.
- To me, this bread is more like breakfast or dessert, not really something to serve with a savory meal. But I might be wrong, so do let me know if you try that!
More sweet bread recipes?
Beigli – Traditional Hungarian Nut Rolls – Hungarian pastry roll filled with walnuts, a real treat for Christmas or Easter.
Yeast Cake – Soft and delicious pull-apart yeast cake with almonds. Also known as Hungarian coffee cake.
Romanian Sweet Bread with Walnuts – Cozonac – Delicious sweet bread typically filled with a walnut filling, this is the most traditional sweet thing you will find in every Romanian family at Easter and Christmas.
Yeast Pastries with Honey – Soft and fluffy Moldavian Yeast Pastries soaked in syrup and topped with honey and walnuts.
Pin it for later!
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 2 cups all-purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 75 g/ 2.5 oz/ scant ½ cup raisins
- 75 g/ 2.5 oz/ scant ½ cup cranberries
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- zest 1 orange
- 50 ml/ 1.7 fl.oz/ ¼ cup orange juice
- 100 ml/ 3.4 fl.oz/ 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons runny honey
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (like rapeseed or sunflower)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda. Add the raisins, cranberries, caraway seeds, and orange zest.
- Mix together the orange juice, buttermilk, honey and oil in a jug and stir until the honey dissolves. Pour this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix quickly until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Turn the rather sticky dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times to form a round loaf. Again, do not overwork the dough, just bring it into shape.
- Place the dough on the prepared baking tray and lightly dust with a little flour. Slash a cross on top, about halfway through the bread.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until deeply brown. Let cool on a wire rack.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2 slices
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 214Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 262mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 4g