Irish Soda Bread – Better Than a Pot of Gold

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a loaf or two of Irish soda bread? If made correctly, this is one of the best quick breads (those leavened without yeast) you’ll ever have. Subtly sweet, with a light, tender crumb, and not at all dry. 

Done wrong, it’s worse than not having any at all. I’ve had some that were not only dry and crumbly, but had such a strong chemical aftertaste, I wondered if I was being poisoned. Okay, so I’m a bit paranoid, but the point is, this is not one of those recipes loaded with spoonfuls of baking powder and soda.

We’re using just enough soda to react with the acid in the buttermilk, and then hedging our bets with a teaspoon of baking powder. That’s really all you need. Speaking of buttermilk, this is one of those recipes, where you can substitute with your own homemade equivalent. Just use the same amount of whole milk, but add 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons, of either lemon juice or white vinegar to the wet ingredients. It’s the tanginess and acid we need, so that will work just about the same.

By the way, if you’re not into the more breakfasty version I did here, this is very simple to convert into a savory bread. Leave out the dried fruit, maybe cut down the honey a little, and you’ll have something wonderful to serve with soups and stews. I hope you give this a try very soon. Enjoy!

Makes 2 loaves of Irish Soda Bread:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal or regular rolled oats
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (make sure it’s fresh)
1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure it’s fresh)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 or 3 tablespoons honey
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup dried currants
1/3 cup gold raisins