Good Life

Anne Quinn Corr: Irish soda bread recipes

The Plain: Brown Irish Soda Bread

This simple bread relies on the action of baking soda with the acidic buttermilk to produce carbon dioxide to rise. It mixes quickly and makes a fine foil for rich Irish butter or cheese. The loaf is cut with a deep cross to ward off the devil. It also makes it handy to cut into quarters to slice.

Makes one loaf

3 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour, stone ground, if available

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small bits

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine the white flour, wheat flour, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix. Rub in the butter until it is the size of small peas. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk all at once. Stir with a wooded spoon until you can’t stir any more, then turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for one minute and then shape into a flat, 2-inch-high disc. Cut a deep cross (+) into the top, cutting about one-third the bread. Bake on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the bread is deeply browned and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom.

The Fancy: Joann Dornich’s Irish Soda Bread

This is the fancy version that Joann Dornich’s maternal Grandma Bridget used to make.

Makes one loaf

3 cups sifted flour (can use half whole wheat and half white)

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup currants or raisins

1 and one third cups buttermilk

2 teaspoons caraway seeds


2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift flour, the three tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Mix in currants and caraway seeds. Add buttermilk and mix until well-blended (dough will be sticky.)

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead about 10 times. Shape into an 8-inch round loaf. Place on a greased (or sprayed or parchment-lined) baking sheet. Cut a cross (+) into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. (Note: Joann cuts this really deeply, about a third of the way into the dough.)

Bake for 45 minutes. Dissolve sugar for the glaze in the hot water in a cup and brush generously over the hot loaf. Bake 10 minutes longer until richly golden brown.