Irish-American Soda Bread
Just in time for St. Patty’s Day, here’s a delicious Irish-American soda bread for you to try. It’s sweeter than traditional Irish soda bread, which is a simple table bread leavened with baking soda rather than yeast, and is generously filled with currants and caraway seeds. In Ireland, it would be called a Spotted Dog or Railway Cake. In my opinion, it’s not quite dessert but definitely falls somewhere in between cake and bread. You’d serve it as you would cornbread — for breakfast, or as a snack or side dish.
Begin by generously greasing a cast iron skillet with butter. This is not the time for PAM. Butter gives the bread a deliciously crisp and golden crust. Don’t worry if you don’t have a cast iron skillet — you can use two 8-inch cake pans.
Next, mix your dry ingredients together in a bowl, and then stir in the currants.
In another bowl, combine the melted butter, buttermilk and eggs.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry.
Toss in the caraway seeds (or feel free to leave them out if you don’t like them).
Gently fold the mixture together until just combined. A light hand ensures the bread will be tender.
Transfer the batter to the prepared skillet or pans and smooth with a rubber spatula.
Dot the top with butter. I know it looks like a lot but there’s only only two tablespoons in the batter, so it’s not that bad…
Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is golden and slightly puffed. Cool slightly and then cut into wedges and serve. This bread is best served fresh out of the oven, but also stays wonderfully moist if wrapped in an airtight container.
Recipe modestly adapted from The Silver Palette New Basics Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso
Irish Soda Bread
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
- 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 cups dried currants
- 1-3/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set the oven rack in the middle position.
- Smear 1 tablespoon of the butter evenly over the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of wax or parchment paper (see note). Alternatively, you can use two 8-inch nonstick cake pans.
- Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the currants and toss well to coat.
- Melt two tablespoons of the butter and let cool.
- Combine the melted butter, buttermilk and eggs and whisk until well combined. Add this to the dry ingredients, along with the caraway seeds, and then fold with a rubber spatula until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top gently with a rubber spatula. Dot the top with the remaining two tablespoons of butter.
- Place the pan(s) in the oven and bake until the bread is puffed and golden brown, 40-50 minutes. Cool in the pan(s) and then cut into wedges and serve warm, or transfer the bread to a wire rack to continue cooling. This bread is best served fresh out of the oven, but keeps well if stored in an airtight container.
- Note: My cast iron pan is well seasoned so I did not bother lining it with wax or parchment paper, and the bread did did not stick at all. Lining the pans is not necessary if using nonstick cake pans.