If there was a competition for taking the love of a single recipe to new heights, I think Edward J. O’Dwyer might win.
In doing some quick research about the origins of Irish soda bread, I came upon the website for The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, which O’Dwyer runs. It comes complete with links to news references, history and more. If you want to do a really deep dive on Irish soda bread, I highly recommend visiting them at sodabread.info.
As a teaser, soda bread became a staple mostly due to the potato famine in Ireland. Things were really rough for families, and soda bread is cheap to make and doesn’t need yeast, which is why it became increasingly popular.
Most of the time, Irish soda bread is made in large loaves, but I was especially intrigued by a recipe to make mini loaves and decided I had to give it a try.
This comes from Dawn Perry on the Real Simple Magazine website. You can find the original post at https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/mini-irish-soda-bread. I added extra raisins in my version.
Mini Irish Soda Bread
- 3 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups raisins
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 4 tablespoons butter or margarine melted
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk I used skim milk with a touch of vinegar
- salted butter softened, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set them aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Add in the raisins and caraway seeds, and stir to incorporate them into the mix.
- Add the melted butter, egg and buttermilk. Mix until everything is well combined. (If the dough still has dry spots, even after mixing well, add another cup of buttermilk.)
- Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place the scoops about two inches apart on your prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minute or until the tops of the loaves are golden brown.
- Serve warm with salted butter and store leftovers in an airtight container.
This is a delicious bread, and the benefit of making the mini, one-serving loaves is that the insides stay pillowy and moist. The outsides are crispy, and the flavor of the bread has a nice combination of sweetness from the raisins and just a light, peppery flavor from the caraway seeds. Adding some salted butter to the warm bread is just the proverbial icing on the cake.
I hope these mini loaves do the traditional recipe justice and would make even Edward J. O’Dwyer a little proud.
According to the society’s website, he is currently working on a history book about the subject. I’ll have to keep that on my radar. I always appreciate someone who takes a good recipe as seriously as I do.
This piece first appeared in print on April 6, 2023.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.