The Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Though my mother's side of the family is Irish, we never celebrated St. Patrick's Day in a big way. I remember soda bread being made a couple times when I was a child, but not liking it very much. I think I made a few in college that were like the ones I had as a kid - more raisin bread than a sweet bread. I'd choke them down, thinking the dry breads would grow on me, but they didn't.

One day, I was sitting in my college's tutorial center and I casually asked my supervisor, Sr. Carolyn Sullivan, if she had a good soda bread recipe. She immediately started to rattle off ingredients and I grabbed an appointment slip to scribble them down on the back. I distinctly remember her saying "half a box of raisins" and wondering how many cups that was, but I was so in awe that she could recite the recipe off the top of her head that I didn't ask.

I never used another recipe again and up until a couple years ago when I typed it up, I was still referring to the blue tutoring appointment slip when I made the bread. It's the best soda bread I've ever had. It's a little sweet and has a very slight cake-like texture.

When I posted this picture on Instagram and Facebook yesterday, several people asked for the recipe.

Some people get really feisty about their soda bread recipe, guarding it like a precious family heirloom. It doesn't seem fair to keep this one a secret, especially since Sr. Carolyn was so generous with it almost 20 years ago.

If you copy this, I only ask that you keep her name on it.

Sr. Carolyn Sullivan's Irish Soda Bread

3 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 box of raisins

2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter or oil
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees and grease a 9" round cake pan with butter.
2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, powder, soda, salt, seeds, and raisins) in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, and butter/oil.
4. Combine the two mixtures just until mixed.
5. Bake in the 350 degree oven for one hour. Reduce the baking time slightly for a more cake-like consistency.

Sr. Carolyn is still working in the tutorial center at Providence. I tweeted at them about the recipe the other day and they replied that the recipe is "legendary."


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