Irish soda bread is easy addition to St. Paddy's fare

March 12, 2014 

Some people think of corned beef and cabbage as standard fare for St. Patrick's Day. That combo is good, but the Irish soda bread and scones make the day special.

Irish soda bread can be served for any meal, and the scones are a treat for a St. Paddy's breakfast or tea.

A Biloxi, Miss., reader asked for Irish soda bread recipes, and we have those. I thought I would offer one of my favorite scone recipes. Either of these breads would make a good breakfast on Monday, which is St. Patrick's Day. The best topper for the scones or Irish soda bread is lemon curd, which can be homemade or store bought.

Longtime friend Donna Cuevas makes a cabbage roll casserole that is not the least bit Irish, but if you have leftover cabbage from that corned beef and cabbage meal, give this a try.

According to the folks at King Arthur Flour, "real" Irish soda bread is made with Irish "wholemeal" flour, which is similar to a coarse grind of American whole wheat flour.

The soda bread can be made with or without currants or raisins and may or may not contain caraway seeds. We like the savory taste of the caraway seeds, but leaving them out makes a sweeter bread.

One thing's for certain; Irish soda bread is one of the easiest breads to make. There is no yeast, so there is no rising time. Some companies offer packaged soda bread mixes, but the recipes are so easy, even children can make the bread with a little bit of oven help from a parent or guardian.

Legend has it that making an X or cross on top of the bread before baking wards off evil spirits.


2- 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins or currants

1-1/4 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9-inch round cake pan.

Mix flour, sugar, caraway seed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in large bowl stir in raisins. Mix buttermilk; eggs and vanilla in medium bowl; stir into dry ingredients. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan or wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

-- Recipe from McCormick & Co.

This recipe from King Arthur Flour is a dense bread that has a tough crust and uses whole wheat or wholemeal flour.


2- 1/2 cups 100 percent whole wheat flour or Irish-style wholemeal flour

1-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup currants or raisins (I like the currants; they are plumper)

4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 8 pieces

1-1/3 cups buttermilk

1 large egg

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt and currants or raisins. Using a mixer, pastry fork or blender or your fingers, cut in the butter until it is evenly distributed and no large chunks remain.

In a separate bowl or in a measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. The dough will be stiff; if it's too crumbly to squeeze together, add another tablespoon or 2 of buttermilk.

Knead the dough a couple of times to make sure it's holding together, then shape it into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, and place the loaf in a lightly greased 8- or 9-inch round cake pan or in a similar pan; it won't spread much, so the pan doesn't have to be large. Ue a sharp knife to cut a 1/2-inch deep cross, extending all the way to the edges, stop the loaf.

Bake the bread in a preheated 400-degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until it's golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven, and brush the top with melted butter, if desired.

-- Recipe from King Arthur Flour


1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits

1/3 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch round pie plate with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl until blended. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk mixture, raisins, and caraway seeds to form a soft dough.

Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough lightly about 6 or 7 times. Form into an 8-inch round and place in the pie plate. Using a small sharp knife, cut a deep "x" into the dough. Dust the top lightly with flour. Bake until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 - 50 minutes. Remove from the pie plate and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

-- Submitted by Pat Kersteter from Paula Deen Test Kitchens

This scone recipe comes from a LaPorte, Texas, friend. It is a goody.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1-1/4 cups whipping cream plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and zest in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add lemon juice and 1-1/4 cups cream, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut with 2- 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. Arrange on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining 2 tablespoons cream.

Bake 17 to 19 minutes or until lightly browned.


1 head of cabbage, quartered

1- 1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped celery

Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

1 jar spaghetti sauce or 1 large can tomato sauce

In a greased oven-proof casserole dish, place cabbage quarters. In a skillet on top of the stove, brown ground beef and stir in onion, bell pepper and celery. Add garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. When meat is no longer pink, pour meat mixture on top of cabbage quarters. Pour jar of spaghetti sauce or 15-ounce can of tomato sauce over cabbage and meat mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Can serve over rice.

-- Submitted by Donna Cuevas

Editor's note: When I have made this dish, I used spaghetti sauce for extra spice, and I added more bell pepper and onion in place of the celery. You readers know that "I don't do celery."

Have a great St. Patrick's Day and enjoy all the weekend parades and festivities.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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