Irish Soda Bread: Take 3.

So I think I’ve kind of started a tradition of baking Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day ever year. This is the third year in a row now that I’ve done it, and it appears that it’s true what they say about the third time being the charm.

once, twice, three times a soda bread.

once, twice, three times a soda bread.

Not that the first two attempts were failures, by any means. But there’s something special about this third one. It’s more golden, its more evenly shaped, and if I’m going to be completely honest, it tastes better. At least I’m pretty sure it does – it’s hard to remember exactly when the last time you’ve eaten something was a year ago. But this one tastes spectacular – and I really don’t remember being quite so blown away by Year #1 or Year #2.

healthy glow.

it’s real, and it’s spectacular.

I can say that it was finally getting the recipe exactly right that really made it stand out this year – and that would be partially true. But the reality is that this year, I used a different base recipe – something a friend wrote on a piece of paper at some point and I found in my binder, stuffed in the front pocket, with a slew of other random and un-filed hand-written recipes, some by me, some by others. The ingredients were pretty much the same, with some of the amounts being a little different, and the method of production being different as well. It was actually much less complicated, and more of a “throw everything in and mix” kinda thing. I like that.

a dough to remember.

a dough to remember.

But as I often do, I had to make a few slight adjustments for things I didn’t have in the house. I did not have buttermilk. But I know that milk + vinegar = buttermilk. I definitely had vinegar; but alas, I had no milk. I thought I did, but there was only half and half. I really wanted to make the bread, and I only had a specific window of time to complete this task in, so, I just plowed ahead, half and half in hand.

I also did not have quite enough raisins. but I’m ok with that and would have probably used less anyway. I had no caraway seeds at all though – and this recipe called for them. So…I just pretended I didn’t even see it, and left them out entirely.


change is good.

In the end, my modified version of the hand-written recipe yielded a soda bread that was wickedly delicious and gloriously golden.. Hours later when my boyfriend came home from work, the first thing he said was “The house smells amazing!” So, if you’re feeling lucky and want your house to smell amazing too, here’s the recipe. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Irish Soda Bread.

What you’ll need:

3 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup raisins

2 eggs

1 1/3 cup half and half

1 1/2 tblsp white vinegar

4 tblsp melted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and whisk together. Add the raisins. In a separate bowl,  beat the eggs, then add the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla, and combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients in the large bowl, and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix with a large spatula, until a dough forms. Knead the dough a few times, and shape it into a rough ball. Place the ball on a baking sheet, covered with parchment paper. With a large serrated knife, cut an “X” across the top. Bake for 50 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Baking Crossroads.

I am at a point where I can’t decide what to bake. I have four things in mind, and each sound fantastic in their own way. Each are also very different – some more sweet, some more savory; some more dense, some more fluffy; some look pretty, some honestly, kinda don’t. Three of them I’ve made before; one I have not. One was a request, the others are just because. So…what should I do?? Maybe you can help.

Here are my four options:

#1: Irish Soda Bread.


This is one I’ve made before (actually twice before). It’s rather light, not overly sweet, kinda crumbly, and full of raisins. It’s also timely, with the pending arrival of St. Patrick’s Day. Did I mention how tasty it is?

#2: Beer Bread.

bread of beer.

bread of beer.

This one I’ve also made before, but apparently have never written about it. I was sure I had posted it when I made it last, although that was about 3 years ago, when I was just starting the blog, so I suppose it was overlooked. So that’s actually giving it an edge here. Also, my boyfriend is obsessed with fancy beer, so I have plenty of fun options to get creative with this time around!

#3: French Macarons.

the mac daddy.

the mac daddy.

I have definitely made these before AND posted about them. I also ate a bunch of them while on my Paris Patisserie Tour, back in the summer of 2012. I haven’t made them since then, and I’ve never made them in colors – only vanilla and chocolate in their natural state. I think because in Paris, they tasted so completely heavenly and looked so beautiful, I’ve been intimidated to make them ever since. I mean, come on – look at these:

the real thing.

the real thing.

Can I do that?? I’m not sure. But maybe it’s time to find out. PS – this one was the request. I do love baking something I know someone really wants…

#4: King Cake.

I have never made this, so i have no photo to provide. I have eaten it, and I have loved every bite. I have researched recipes, but they all seem pretty different, so I’m a little lost at where to start. The one that I’ve eaten and savored sort of reminded me of a cheese danish. But some recipes don’t even have any cheese products in them – so what am I to do?? I did come across one recipe that sounded like it would yield a very close result to the cake I call King. And I love a good experiment. So there’s that.

So, there you have it.  Four very deliciously different paths to head down, all leading to very equally appealing results. What’s a baker girl to do?? Help!

The Second Annual Baking of the Irish Soda Bread.


I realized after making Irish Soda Bread for the first time last year for St. Patrick’s Day, that I was going to have to make a tradition out of it. So, last week, I dug right in and attempted to recreate the very same bread I made this time a year ago, using the same recipe as a basic guide. The only difference this year was that I had a sweet new wooden spoon that my mom gave me for Christmas that I hadn’t even used yet, and a shiny new gigantic mixing bowl that I had picked up specifically for mixing doughs.

cool new tools.

cool new tools.

I don’t know if they made the bread any better than last year’s – I really can’t recall how last year’s tasted compared to this years! All I can say is that I do remember last year’s turning out pretty good, and this year’s was actually kinda great. So maybe it really is all in the equipment…

One thing I did remember was that I baked last year’s in a cake pan – so I did that same thing again. It keeps it from getting flat.

cake pans are not just for cake anymore.

cake pans are not just for cake anymore.

It definitely did NOT get too flat – it rose quite nicely and retained its round-ish shape, like a good dough should when it’s baked into bread.


shapely bread.

shapely bread.

I will say this – I think I let it bake just a few minutes too long. It didn’t burn, but if i were to do it again, I’d have taken it out of the oven 5 minutes earlier. It was still really tasty, and looked kinda awesome, close up.


It’s all gone now, so it must have been pretty good. 🙂

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Until next year….

The Luck of the Irish Soda Bread.

Last night, I tried my hand at Irish Soda Bread for the very first time. I used this recipe, from Simply Recipes, with only a couple minor tweaks – I used fat free milk + vinegar instead of buttermilk, and I baked it in a 10″ cake pan.

bread cake?

Anyway, I was nervous, as I know quite a few Irish folk who really look forward to this particular bread, and I didn’t want to let them down. I didn’t. 🙂

kiss me, i'm irish!

The only small detail I felt could be improved upon was the crispness of the bottom – it was a tad too dark. I let it cook longer than I would have liked, to ensure it cooked all the way through. But it didn’t take away from the overall quality of the bread. “This is a winner!” one bread-eating fan exclaimed. Another would have said the same, except for the fact that he ate about 6 pieces and couldn’t say anything with his mouth full. Compliments aside, I would still like to do a bit of tweaking to really make this bread shine, like the top of the Chrysler building.  As they say, things can only get better!