Honorary Irish and my favorite Irish Soda Bread

This is the “Lucky” edition of Collectively Creative where bloggers get together and write about a central theme!  I’ve been very lucky to be welcomed into my husband’s Irish family.  Little did my parents know that when they named their daughter Maura, that she would someday fall in love with an Irish man, thus making her name fully Irish!  It confuses my patients sometimes, I think 🙂
The Lucky Edition Logo March 2013
The first time I met my future in-laws was actually on a family trip to Ireland.  We traveled from Shannon to Dublin by car, staying at picturesque bed and breakfast places on the way and enjoying the countryside.  I would look forward to the homemade Irish soda bread with creamy, fresh Irish butter and orange marmalade in the mornings, often looking out on the cows and sheep grazing in pastures beyond.  I loved the city of Galway, with its eclectic shops, college town feel, and fun pubs with traditional music.  We saw traditional Irish dancers in Dublin, visited the Guinness factory, took a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry up to the Cliffs of Moher, rising over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean below.  It was wonderful!   The people of Ireland were so friendly too…one night we were roaming about looking for a place to eat, when a friendly woman gave us a recommendation…she then stopped by the restaurant later that evening to make sure that we had found it and enjoyed ourselves!  Embarrassing admission…one romantic evening my future husband I were walking the streets by ourselves, when I spied a cute shop lit from within.  I immediately made a beeline for the shop, only to bounce backwards as my face and nose hit the glass door!  The night watchman came running down to make sure I was okay, apologizing and saying that this had happened many times before, and they were actually thinking about putting a sign or a sticker on the door!  I was mortified, but my nose wasn’t broken, and my husband-to-be didn’t make me feel too badly about it 🙂
irish soda bread
When St. Patrick’s Day comes around, I’m always so excited to make this Irish Soda Bread.  I love all the variations of soda bread, but this one is my absolute favorite.  It’s so light and airy, perfect served warm with some really creamy butter.  I don’t know why I don’t make it all year round, because it really is one of my favorite breads.  It’s very simple too…you can make it all in one bowl, and there is very little kneading involved.  Start by mixing the dry ingredients together…flour, a little sugar, baking soda, and kosher salt.  Then add in half of a stick of very cold butter.  Mix until the butter is the size of peas.  Measure out the buttermilk in a glass cup, mix in one egg and some orange zest, and add slowly to the dry mixture.  A view of my counter when I’m cooking…always a mess, but having fun 🙂
ingredients for irish soda bread, barefoot contessaThe dough will be extremely wet!  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead just until the loaf comes together into a round.  I usually make two smaller loaves so I can share with more people 🙂  I was taught to mark a cross on the top with a sharp knife, so that’s what I always do!
Bake in a 375 oven for 40 minutes for smaller loaves, up to 55 minutes for one large loaf.  Eat warm right out of the oven 🙂
This soda bread is slightly crispy on the outside, but tender and light on the inside.  I love the orange zest in there…it complements the flavors so well and makes it perfect for breakfast or afternoon snack 🙂
barefoot contessa irish soda bread
This little girl loved it!  I’m going to be making some everyday this week to give away to friends and family.  I’ve also bought my corned beef so I can prepare that in the slow cooker, along with some cabbage and potatoes!  We actually have a St. Patty’s Day party to go to on the beach this weekend!
 My Favorite Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup raisins or currants or Craisins (I used Craisins), mixed with 1 T of flour
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or Silpat.  Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add the cold butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.  Using a fork, beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup.  Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, with a mixer on low speed.  Combine the craisins and flour, then mix into the dough.
The dough will be very wet.  Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead a few times until you can shape it into one or two round loaves.  Place the loaf onto your prepared pan, and cut a cross on the top of the bread with a sharp knife.  Bake for 40 minutes for the two smaller loaves, up to 55 minutes for one large loaf or until the loaf makes a hollow sound and a tester comes out clean.  Cool on a baking rack.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature!
Are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend?
How did you meet your significant other? 🙂  
Please visit these other lovely, creative bloggers!!
Jell-O Shamrocks: A Kid’s Lucky Snack – (Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons)
A Lucky Save! – (Pillows A-La-Mode)
The many meanings of “lucky” – (The Thing About Joan)
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Luck o’the Irish for Easter!  – (Minerva’s Hand)
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Asian Cucumber Salad – (Inspire and Indulge)

39 thoughts on “Honorary Irish and my favorite Irish Soda Bread

  1. Maura, I can’t get over how many similarities there are between us! Jon and I definitely have Ireland on our travel bucket list. We were actually REALLY close to buying a Groupon for a trip about a month ago. Reading about your experience makes me SO excited to go one day – It sounds amazing!

    I’ve never made soda bread before. Is it weird that I assumed club soda was in it? 🙂 This sounds delicious and fairly easy so I’ll have to give it a try. Pinned!

    • Oh, you should totally do it, Leah!! We had a blast! It was a great combination of beautiful scenery and peaceful stays at bed and breakfasts, combined with the fun of seeing Dublin and Galway, visiting the pubs and enjoying all the traditional music and dancing. The people are so lively and fun 🙂

      That’s so funny that you mentioned about the club soda, because my daughter was asking me why it is called soda bread and I had to stop and think about that for a second! I told her it’s because of the baking soda in the bread, so I hope that’s right 🙂

      I’ve missed you, Leah!!

  2. I’m making soda bread today, too! I think I must use a different recipe every year, but this one looks really delicious. I have to leave out the raisins though–my daughter doesn’t like them, and today’s loaves are for a special event as part of her First Communion preparation. I wish I had remembered to buy some really good butter!

    • Haha, I know, there are so many irish soda bread recipes out there! We asked one of the bed and breakfast places to share their recipe with us and it was really simple using whole wheat flour, so more like a “brown bread”.

      Blessings to your daughter on her First Communion…such a special day 🙂

  3. I’m making soda bread too this weekend from a family recipe and my husband is making the corned beef for corned beef hash. I think I might also try your recipe with Craisins because I love dried cranberries and with the orange zest, it sounds divine!

    I really liked reading about your time in Ireland too — I hope I get there someday!

    • Ooh, I love corned beef hash, Joan! It’s a great way to use the leftovers 🙂

      I hope you like the bread…we like the craisins and orange zest together too! I made another batch last night with a combo of golden raisins and craisins, that was even better!

  4. Maura and Leah – what a crazy, small world we live in! My hubby Patrick and I went to Ireland for OUR honeymoon and our daughter is named Shannon, after DH’s paternal grandfather’s hometown in County Clare (which was another name we were considering for Princess).

    Loved the story about the window. You made an “impression,” that’s for sure! 😉

      • We stuck to the lower perimeter of Ireland…Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford (for the opera festival), Waterford, Blarney, Killarney, drove up through the Burren, and then a lot of exploring County Clare…we went to the Cliffs of Moher, Corcomroe Abbey, Doolin. Then we spent our last two nights at Glin Castle in County Limerick. I miss Ireland.

        We were in Ireland during the low season (October), so it was really neat getting to see the country without being “tourists.” Do you go to Ireland often?

      • Wow, sounds like a great trip! I’ve actually only gone the one time, but we hope to take the kids sometime when they are older so they can see part of their heritage 🙂 How was the weather in Ireland in October?

  5. Question about baking – just a regular baking pan for the loaf? Do you think a pizza stone would make the bread even better? Will have to try this recipe…we usually just do a lazy Irish beer bread, lol.

  6. You are such a wonderful storyteller. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I have never been to Ireland yet I am so enchanted by this beautiful country. One day. I love Irish Soda bread and will be trying out your recipe this weekend. Take Care, Thea

  7. My mouth is salivating! This looks delish. I laughed when I saw the pic of your counter – it looks just like mine complete with phone, Candy Land and black granite. I even have that Pyrex measuring cup. Just wish I had those palm trees outside my window.

    Loved the snippet on Ireland — can’t wait to get there someday. Oh, and your daughter is adorable!

  8. Hehe, Maura this post made me giggle ;). I can def relate to the “running into the door” incident as I have done so many many times…and yes with Tim watching. He’s used to it by now although I think I’ve become less clumsy over the years ;). I really really want to visit Ireland one of these days!

    You’re baked goods always come out so perfect! Yum…I’ve never had Irish soda bread before, and now I’m dying to try! On a more personal note, my father-in-law is doing better. He’s starting to move a bit more, but getting him to eat is still extremely challenging. We just keep praying…thank you for thinking of us!

    • Oh thanks for making me feel better, Min 🙂

      I’m so glad your father-in-law is feeling better…I’ll be praying that his appetite comes back and that he can get some nourishment for strength. We’ve been thinking and praying for Tim too…it must be incredibly difficult having to see your parent struggle and our hearts go out to him. Love you!

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    • Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! We make it every year as well…made four batches this year and gave a lot to family and friends 🙂 Hope you had a great St. Patty’s Day!

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