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Cook's Illustrated, American-Style Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread is essentially a very large scone, one that isn't sweet, but yet is tender, delicious and perfect with a cup of tea.  American-style soda bread adds a little bit more sugar, some caraway seeds and a good amount of plump, juicy raisins.  It was such a bread that I was looking forward to baking this weekend for St. Patrick's Day.

After asking several people for their favorite versions of soda bread, I settled on the recipe by Cook's Illustrated, which can be found in their Baking Illustrated book.  Their recipe uses buttermilk, and I have to say that it makes all of the difference.  The bread is tender, the crumb is light.  

This is the Baking Illustrated recipe!  Please note that I doubled the recipe in these photos, because I wanted to bake 2 breads.  

  • 3 cups lower-protein unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain cake flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for crust
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoons caraway seeds
Step 1

Step 1
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl.  Work the softened butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
    Step 2
  2. Combine the buttermilk and egg with a fork.  Add the buttermilk-egg mixture, raisins and caraway seeds and stir with a fork just until the dough begins to come together.  Turn out onto a flour-covered work surface;  knead just until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy.  12-14 turns.  (Do not knead until the dough is smooth or the bread will be tough.)
    Step 3

    Step 3
  3. Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high;  place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Score the dough by cutting a cross shape on the top of the loaf.
    Step 3 
  4. Bake, covering the bread with aluminum foil if it is browning too much, until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, or the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, 40-45 minutes.  Remove loaf from the oven and brush the surface with the melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30-40 minutes.

My only regret this time around was scoring the breads a little deeper than I should have.  This caused the cross in the middle of each bread to spread more than I was hoping for, but nevertheless, the breads were still tasty.

I've already had a couple of slices of Irish soda bread with my afternoon tea.  If there is any bread left, tomorrow morning I will toast some pieces and slather on the butter and jam.  Give this recipe a go in the coming days.  I think you'll like it as much as I do.  Cheers!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!


  1. Thanks for finding us a really good recipe. Soda bread recipes abound, but this one looks particularly delicious.

    1. Jusaweecatnap, you really should try this recipe. It's so good. I'm having some as I type this! :)

  2. I quadrupled Martha's recipe but yours looks even better - I will try this one next time. Thanks!

    1. I looked at Martha's recipe during my search for one. Four breads is quite an undertaking! ! Wow!

  3. I made two of the NYTs recipe this weekend but had trouble getting it to cook all the way through. Will try this one. Looks fantastic!

    1. I'll have to look for the one from the NYT. Yes, do try this one. It's good!


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