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Classic Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins

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Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins is a classic, super easy-to-make quick bread for St. Patrick’s Day, or any day you’re craving warm bread from the oven that’s simple to make. Buttermilk creates a soft and tender inside with a hint of sweetness from golden raisins. It’s utterly delicious!

Side view of just baked Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins on a wood cutting board with blooming shamrocks

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Irish Soda Bread is a tradition at my house. Not only for St. Patrick’s Day, but for chilly days when stew is bubbling away on the stove or in the slow cooker, or when we’re just craving the warmth of a freshly baked loaf.

Although you can bake this soda bread on a sheet pan, round cake tin, or even an uncovered Dutch oven, there’s something rustically delicious about baking it in a cast iron skillet. And the golden crust it creates… is amazing.

Many of our readers have loved my Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins but have requested a recipe with more servings. This is that recipe and one I make anytime I’m serving a larger crowd, which happens very frequently on St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s our Irish blood (I think) that gathers the family from the corners of the planet. I’m smiling, but it’s kind of true! We play our fiddle music and have been known to dance a few jigs too. And always, you can find a few shamrocks around too.

What is Classic to Serve with Irish Soda Bread?

There isn’t many recipes that can’t benefit from the addition of a warm-from-the-oven loaf of Irish Soda Bread! In addition to soups and stews, I love to serve it with these classics:

Side view of just baked Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins on a dark wood serving board

Irish Soda Bread Origins

Soda Bread begins showing up in recipes in the late 1830s when baking soda was first introduced to the United Kingdom.

Bread baking ingredients became increasingly scare during the Great Potato Famine. Irish Soda Bread became the answer for inexpensive, easily obtained quick bread ingredients.

Early versions of Irish Soda Bread most often included these ingredients: soft wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk.

Top view of just baked Irish Soda Bread in cast iron skillet

Why Does Soda Bread Have a Cross on Top?

Making a cross in the bread is traditionally a reference to an Irish tradition of blessing the bread, of being thankful for the food on the table.

It also serves the practical purpose of making sure the center of the bread bakes evenly. And allowing the bread to pull apart in quarters!

Classic Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins

While this soda bread recipe is a slight departure from traditional whole grain soda bread, this is one my family always requests. A bit sweeter and they love the added raisins. For a more traditional loaf, you might like my Traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread recipe!

As with all soda bread recipes, you will not find yeast in the ingredient list. Instead, the interaction of baking soda and buttermilk help the bread rise.

Top view of Soda Bread ingredients on a round wooden board

Ingredients for Soda Bread Recipe

This simple-to-make bread is perfectly delicious with Emerald Isle comfort food or Irish Pub food. And one I make all year, but most especially in the spring!  

The exact ingredient measurements are in the recipe card below.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar for a hint of sweetness.
  • Cold butter, cubed and cut into the flour. If you can use Irish butter, all the better!
  • Baking soda, baking powder for rise plus salt for flavor.
  • Buttermilk is necessary for that slightly tangy flavor and for rising.
  • Large egg for added density and moisture
  • Golden raisins: although regular raisins work too. Golden raisins tend to be a bit plumper and contain a bit more moisture, which I love in the bread.
Side view of Irish Soda Bread wedge on white plate with cut loaf in the background

How to Make Classic Irish Soda Bread

Step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card below, but here is a quick overview with photos.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a seasoned 10 to12-inch cast iron skillet, or line a baking sheet with parchment. You can also use a 9-10-inch cake pan or even an uncovered Dutch oven.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter and then stir in the raisins.

Top view of flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a glass bowl with cubes of cold butter

Whisk the buttermilk and egg together before adding it to the flour mixture. Stir until loosely combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly until the dough comes together and can be shaped. Place in skillet or on baking sheet.

Top view of cutting a cross into the top of an unbaked soda bread in a cast iron skillet
Top view of brushing buttermilk over unbaked soda bread in a black cast iron skillet

Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/2-inch deep cross (or x) into the top of the dough and brush with additional buttermilk for a golden, shinny bread. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the bread is golden.

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Side view of Irish Soda Bread wedge on white plate
Side view of just baked Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins on a wood cutting board with blooming shamrocks

Classic Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins

Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins is an easy bread for St. Patrick's Day, or any day you're craving warm bread with a hint of sweetness!
4.7 from 6 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 20 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter cubed
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk plus more for brushing on top
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a seasoned 10 to12-inch cast iron skillet, or line a baking sheet with parchment. You can also use a 9-10-inch cake pan or even an uncovered Dutch oven.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers until the butter is in pea-sized crumbs. Stir in the golden raisins.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the egg. Add to the flour mixture and stir until crumbly but loosely combined.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. The dough will be crumbly. Flour your hands (or use a bench scraper) and fold the dough in half several times, kneading slightly until it comes together. Be careful not to over-knead the dough, just enough to be able to form it. Add additional flour or buttermilk as needed. Shape the dough into a round and place it in the skillet or baking sheet.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/2-inch deep cross (or x) into the top of the dough and brush with additional buttermilk for a golden, shiny top.
  • Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the center appears baked through. If the top of the bread browns too quickly, loosely tent foil over the top.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted if you're lucky enough to have leftovers!

Video

Notes

Storing Soda Bread

Cover and store soda bread at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze the soda bread for longer storage.
To freeze: wrap the whole loaf or slices and store in an airtight freezer container or bag for up to 3 months. I love to store slices and serve with stews or soups!

Nutrition

Calories: 176kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Course: Breads
Cuisine: Irish
Keyword: Irish Soda Bread

2 Comments

  1. Yummy Irish Soda Bread. I added 3-4 tablespoons of carawaya and extra raisins. I also made orange butter. Cook time was 55 minutes. This is a keeper!

    1. OK– I am SO hungry for soda bread right now. I love your adaptations and the orange butter is brilliant! I’m baking my weekend loaf on Friday and I think orange butter is definitely on the list!

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