Irish soda bread with raisins or currants makes an amazing treat for St. Patrick's Day, Easter, or Christmas. This delicious traditional recipe is slightly sweet with a burst of fresh orange zest. Serve the loaf warm with Irish butter or slice and serve as toast.
My favorite boss was a wonderful Irish woman who surprised our team with an authentic Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day.
20-something me had never heard of it before and all these years later I still remember what a delicious treat that was during the work day.
Most traditional St. Patrick's Day foods can be tricky for picky eaters to enjoy. So when I wanted to celebrate the holiday with my young kids, I learned how to bake a traditional Irish soda bread in my oven.
The slightly sweet dough has small currants and a bit of fresh orange zest for additional flavor.
Sliced and served warm with a little butter, my kids couldn't resist!
Why This Recipe Is the Best
Irish soda bread with raisins is so easy for beginner bakers. There is no yeast in this soda bread recipe so you don't need to wait for it to rise or worry about using the right yeast.
The only tool you need is a stand mixer to help make the dough. Everything else is done by hand and baked on a simple baking sheet in the oven.
If you want an even easier way to make this homemade bread, check out my bread machine variation note at the bottom of the post.
Traditional Irish soda bread has a very short list of ingredients required:
- Buttermilk: If you don't have any on hand, you can make your own by combining 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes before using.
- Butter: Be sure to keep it ice cold before using.
- Raisins or Dried Currants: Currants are the more traditional ingredient but if you can't find them, you can absolutely use raisins in your Irish soda bread. I recommend chopping them so they are smaller in size and mimic the texture of the currants.
- Baking Soda: The only ingredient that helps the bread to rise. No yeast is required here!
Make the Dough in a Stand Mixer
The entire soda bread dough recipe is made right in a stand mixer.
It is important to keep the buttermilk and butter cold before using them. I recommend measuring the dry ingredients first and then prepping the dairy last.
Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to the bowl of your stand mixer and stir them together on low.
Then, measure the buttermilk in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add the egg and whisk them together with a fork.
Zest the orange right over the top and set the cup aside.
In a small bowl, toss the raisins or dried currants with a little flour. This helps coat them and prevent them from sinking to the bottom of your dough as it bakes.
Keep the butter in your fridge until you are just ready to use it so it stays cold.
Chop the butter into small cubes and add it to the stand mixer. Mix on low speed until incorporated (image 2 below.)
Pour the reserved buttermilk mixture into the mixer and continue to stir until the dough forms.
Add the prepared raisins or currants to the dough and mix until just blended.
Knead and Shape the Loaf
Turn the entire contents of the mixing bowl out onto a lightly floured baking mat.
You may notice that the currants are not evenly incorporated at this point. Simply knead the dough a few times by hand to even everything out.
Form the dough into a disc and transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Use a serrated knife to slice a small X on the top of the dough to help release steam as it bakes.
Bake in Oven
Preheat the oven to 375°F and bake the Irish soda bread for 50 min - 1 hour.
A cake tester inserted in the center should come out clean and the bread should make a hollow sound when you tap it.
If the bread begins to get too dark but the baking isn't finished, simply cover the bread loosely with a bit of aluminum foil.
Irish soda bread with raisins or currants makes a delicious simple breakfast treat. I love to serve warm slices with a bit of butter.
This easy bread would also make a fun side dish for a warm and cozy Irish meal.
Bread Machine Variation
I've adjusted this oven recipe for even easier baking right in your bread machine. If you're short on time or are worried about the final bake, let your bread maker do all the work!
You can find this recipe and many more in The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook.
Just be prepared, my Irish soda bread bread machine recipe does add a little yeast to ensure a perfect rise. You'll want to have some on hand before you bake.
Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
- 4 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon for the currants
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- 4 tablespoons butter cold
- 1 cup raisins or dried currants
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Measure the buttermilk into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Add the egg and whisk them together with a fork. Add the orange zest to the cup and set aside.
- Keep the butter in the fridge until you are ready to work with it. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the stand mixer.
- Mix the butter into the flour on low speed until it has been completely incorporated in the mixture.
- Slowly add the reserved buttermilk to the mixing bowl and continue to mix on low speed until the dough forms.
- Sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon of flour over the raisins or currants in a small mixing bowl. Toss to coat, this will help them to not sink to the bottom of the dough while it bakes.
- Add the raisins or currants to the mixer and stir to combine, the dough will be very wet.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured baking mat. Knead it by hand a few times and form a round-shaped loaf. Transfer the dough round to the prepared baking pan and slice an X over the top.
- Bake for 55 minutes - 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. The soda bread will sound hollow when you tap on it.
- NOTE: If the bread starts to darken too much before the baking time is over, you may lightly cover it with aluminum foil.
Raisins or Currants?While currants are more traditional for Irish soda bread, if you are unable to find them at your grocery store, you may use raisins in Irish soda bread. I recommend chopping the raisins to make them slightly smaller in size so they mimic the texture of the currants in the final loaf.
Make Ahead Tips:The bread is most delicious the day it has been baked but will keep well for 2 - 3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Leftovers make delicious toast, the heat from the toaster improves the texture as well.
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