Thursday, April 15, 2010

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Raisin scones or Irish soda bread? It's a sconundrum.
I'm crazy for a good raisin scone, but the idea of making Irish soda bread appealed to me because it's like one ginormous scone without portion control. That's right. A big, honkin’ hunk 'a heaven all for me. I mean, there's only one. And if you think I'm the sharing type, we've obviously never met.

Many a morning, I crave a really dense raisin scone. Not that airy, light-as-a-feather type. I want heavy. The kind that fills me up for several hours, providing shameful, guilt-propelled caloric sustenance. With this easy recipe from, I faced another sconundrum—whether to add caraway seeds like a lot of other recipes called for. I decided to try it since it's pretty common in soda bread, and I am a big fan of rye bread. Afterwards, when I got off my gluttonous high horse and shared, some people really liked this combination. But I didn't really like sharing the raisin limelight with the caraway. So to make a long sconundrum short, I preferred this bread as a sweet sans the savory. Next time, I'll leave out the seeds and add some walnuts for even more dense, caloric sustenance. Big, honkin’ scone: come to selfish momma!


Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2 cups all purpose flour

5 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup raisins

1 tsp caraway seeds (My optional addition)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8 or me


  1. The traditional recipe I use for soda bread calls for currants but I have used raisins with no problem. I haven't come across the fennel seed thing but I don't think I would like it since I have some aversion to anise flavored things.
    You really need to get my the market for some Kerry Gold butter to properly enjoy the soda makes a great, hearty bread glorious.

  2. Thanks for the tip, bread maestro. ; )
    Does your recipe have buttermilk? I know some scones have cream instead. This recipe is actually pretty low-fat.

  3. I just made scones again last weekend. Was out of heavy cream so I used buttermilk instead. They were good, but I prefer them with cream. The extra fat makes them decadent. And, I'll usually stop eating at one or two.

    I also prefer currants over raisins. More frequently, however, I use dried cranberries. Sacrilige, I know!

  4. Andrea, I've only made scones once (currant) and used buttermilk. They didn't blow me away, so I want to try cream. For this I used low-fat buttermilk which isn't very fattening, and I have to say for the little butter and buttermilk it uses, it's pretty satisfying! But by the time I keep eating it, it's not so unfattening.

  5. Yeah I use buttermilk but it should be whole milk not the no fat version. Buttermilk is naturally low in fat since it was is left over from taking all the fat out to make butter. Duh! Real buttermilk has a little fat in the form of small chunks of butter that leave the strange lines in your glass while the no fat kind has this little bit removed. BTW you can also use whole milk kefir for your soda bread and it does a fine job. Whole milk yogurt will also work if thinned by a bit of milk.

  6. I have actually had a hard time finding regular buttermilk here in L.A. All the stores I've been to only have the low-fat.

  7. Two thoughts: 1)I have also used a whole fat yogurt thinned with milk with good results. 2) you can make whole milk buttermilk substitute with 1 cup whole milk plus 1 tablepoon vinegar or lemon juice. But, fyi, even with these options, I prefer the scones made with cream.

  8. I'm not sure about the fennel either- I would use caraway seed.

  9. A Dutch Brit: I am embarrassed to say that I did use caraway, and mistakenly wrote fennel in the recipe. Will correct it now! Thanks for your comment!

  10. Hmm I was wondering....

    I have an Irish friend who makes soda bread. I may well surprise her and make her this one- with the caraway seeds. It sure looks good.
    I have a recipe for a cake with caraway seeds, very simple but I find it really works. I'll look it up and post it on my blog very soon.