Though this version of the famous Celtic quick bread is not traditional (the classic is simply made with flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk), it is what I consider to be the gold standard of ‘lace curtain’ soda breads, the kind that would be served at a fancy tea or large gathering (remember those?). The recipe comes from my dear friend Maureen Luchejko, a talented recipe developer and food stylist from New York, and it is embellished with lots of not-so-traditional extras, such as butter, sugar, eggs, raisins and caraway seeds. According to Maureen, “I met my ex-husband on St Patrick’s Day in the late 70’s, and we celebrated our anniversary every year by entertaining on St. Patty’s day with corned beef and cabbage, James Beard’s Twice Baked Potatoes, and this delicious Irish Soda Bread. The hubs is now gone, but I still make the soda bread every year.” Maureen suggests you serve this bread warm, with plenty of soft Irish butter slathered on it, and says it’s also great toasted for breakfast.
Makes one 9-inch round loaf, serving 8
- 4 cups (520 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 8 tablespoons (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 large (100 grams) eggs
- 1 1/2 cups (362 grams) buttermilk
- 1 cup (140 grams) golden raisins, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9-inch pie dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter cubes on top and pulse at 5 second intervals until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a medium bowl. (Alternatively, you can whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and, using a pastry blender or two dinner knives, cut in the cold butter pieces until coarse crumbs form.)
- Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until well blended. Whisk in the buttermilk until blended. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture to it. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients just until blended. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds until a soft dough forms. Do not over-knead the dough.
- With floured hands, shape the dough into a round and place it in the prepared pie plate. Place about 2 tablespoons flour into a mesh sieve and sprinkle the flour over the top of the dough. With a small, sharp knife, cut a deep cross into the dough, extending it all the way to the edge. (This will prevent the bread from cracking and give it a traditional look.)
- Bake the bread until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in its center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove from the pie dish and cool the bread on a wire rack. Serve warm or toasted with lashings of Irish butter.