Some Soda to Soak Up the Beer

Editor’s Note: New Contributor LB — a Boston-based chef currently studying for her Masters in Gastronomy — joins us just in time for St. Patrick’s day with this classic Irish recipe. Welcome, LB!


The smell of whiskey, green vomit, and shame is clinging to the air….just another morning during St. Patty’s here in Boston. We take our leprechaun-laden drunkfest very seriously around these parts– Patty’s isn’t only on the 17th; rather it starts the Sunday before with the St. Patrick’s parade in the mostly Irish South Boston. Swigging from a communal bottle of Jameson while sharing the sidewalk with nuns and priests is always a bit of a mind-fuck, but hey, where else can you start seeing double and confess at the same time?

All this day-drinking requires a serious amount of food, of course. Corned beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, and my favorite, Irish soda bread. Aside from a big greasy basket of fries, nothing sets me straight in the middle of a bender better than bread. Bread that is slightly sweet, flecked with raisins, and both crunchy and soft at the same time is just gravy. So do yourself (and your liver) a favor this Patty’s and whip yourself up a loaf before you pour yourself that first green beer.

Irish soda bread has a million incarnations, but this one is pretty fucking delicious– and seriously easy. I’ve seen children make this recipe, so unless you are completely void of pride, quit complaining that baking bread is too difficult and make this. Now. Of course, don’t tell anyone how easy it was — just let them bask in all your flour-laced glory. And demand that they buy you a drink for all your labors.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Nonstick spray (the baking kind if you have it)
2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoons baking soda
3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F and spray a 8” or 9” cake pan with the nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, work butter in until a coarse meal forms. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into the buttermilk, then mix in raisins. (For an
extra-special experience, soak raisins in whiskey before starting the recipe.)

Shape dough into ball, flouring your hands if necessary. Place in cake pan, flatten slightly, and score top of the dough in an X shape. Sprinkle dough with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake bread until the top is golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Cool bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or however your drunk ass feels like.

Don’t forget your genuine Irish butter.

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One comment

  • Tyler March 16, 2010  

    I was going to be lazy and serve a loaf of onion rye to myself and company for corned-beef Wednesday, but you’ve inspired me to step up my game. I will try out the oven in the new apartment with this recipe

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