This year, making Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread has been kind of bittersweet. My Italian mom would make it every year, using her mother-in-law’s awesome recipe. I would help her; helped her more in the last few years. But this year it was just me. And this is just the beginning of those experiences. I miss our time together in the kitchen cooking family memories. It never gets easier. But, cooking these recipes gives me a connection to the past, and to the ones who have gone before me. And so cooking them is a labor of love.
So when I make them, I always make one loaf with no raisins, because Aunt Marilyn hates raisins with the fire of a thousand burning suns. And I make sure to bring some to the office, because Margaret always buys the Kerry Gold if I make the bread. And I bring some to the Ladies’ Auxiliary at the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry so they can sell them for dessert. And I make some for me and my rectory-mates to have for breakfast, or a snack.
It’s the best recipe I’ve ever tasted, and it’s really pretty simple. I never add the caraway; Mom didn’t like it, and I don’t much either. It fills the house with a wonderful aroma, and it holds up for several days well-wrapped on the counter. It’s the perfect accompaniment to your corned beef and cabbage, or whatever you make for Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s also great whenever you feel like making it!
I’ll make these recipes forever. They help me remember, and even though I shed a few tears, there are a lot of smiles.
Make your family recipes, people!
Grandma's Irish Soda Bread
First of all, I never add the caraway. My mother didn't like them, and really, I'm not excited about them either. Second, my stand mixer can make a double batch, so that's two loaves. I have four pans, so I usually do it twice and have some to give away. You may need to bake a little longer than an hour, depending on your oven. Test with a sharp knife inserted in the middle; it should come out mostly clean. You can also omit the raisins.
- 3 ½ cups flour, sifted
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups seedless raisins
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Sift dry ingredients together, set aside. Add caraway seeds (if using) to flour mixture. Add buttermilk, sugar, and melted butter to beaten eggs. Combine in bowl of stand mixer. Add dry mixture to wet mixture, a little at a time, on low speed (or you'll be sorry). Give everything about a half minute on medium at the end. Then add the raisins, and combine on low. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour (or until done). Makes one loaf.