Thursday, March 17, 2011

Will's Irish soda bread: a recipe

Earlier this year, my family of friends lost one of its finest members.

Will was the husband of my oldest and dearest friend, but he was so much more: father, son, brother, friend, leader, coach, athlete, outdoorsman, wicked handy handyman, drinking buddy and all-around good guy. One of the best good guys I will ever have the pleasure to have known.

But he was also one more thing that was very, very important to him: Will was Irish.

So St. Patrick's Day was a big deal. And one of the ways he made it a big deal was to bake Irish soda bread with his sons every year.

I know his boys are continuing the tradition this year. I wish I lived closer to them so I could lend a hand. Since I don't, I'm making it my own annual tradition, too, to honor Will's memory and remember his all-around-good-guyness.

I can't tell you where his recipe (below) came from but it's easy and it's good.

So today, bake an Irish soda bread and wash it down with a beer (preferably a Fat Tire) ... for Will.

Will's Irish Soda Bread
(makes one large loaf)

4 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (I find the best way to do this is by using your hands). Add seeds and raisins.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs -- remove one tablespoon and set aside. Mix buttermilk into the egg mixture; stir into the flour mixture until moistened (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough out on to a well-floured surface. With floured hands, knead about 10 strokes to mix thoroughly. Shape dough into ball and place into a greased, 2-quart round casserole. In the center of the ball, cut a 4-inch cross about 1/4-inch deep. Brush dough with reserved egg.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 20 minutes (depending on the accuracy of your oven) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in casserole on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from casserole and cool completely on wire rack.

Note: Because the recipe is so basic, you can really customize Irish soda bread. If you want to use it as more of a dinner bread, definitely add the caraway seeds. If you'd rather eat it for breakfast, try substituting currants or dried cranberries for the raisins and orange zest for the caraway seeds.


  1. julianne, Sorry to hear about your friend will.

    I baked soda bread this morning with Karl and Alex in loving memory of my maternal grandmother, who was 100% Irish and immigrated from Dublin in her early 20s. Yes I used her recipe....I will eat it with butter, jam and with tea, just as she enjoyed it! Yum

  2. Okay, so I cried as I read this, mainly because the picture you used is the one of him I carry around in my head.

    Thanks for telling me something about Will I didn't know.

  3. A great way to honor a great friend.

  4. I wish I had read this before now; with St. Pat's day being my Will's birthday, I'm going to start the tradition to make this with him in Will's memory. Our thoughts are very much with his family.

  5. Achmed: I think that's a great idea!!!
    Liz: I'm glad you have a similar tradition to remember your grandmother.

  6. Great post Julianne....

  7. We made this today. It came out beautifully. Thank you for posting.

    1. No, thank YOU, Julia, for making it and remembering Will.