Irish Soda Bread


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (see Note)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice

Nothing beats homemade bread, warm from the oven, spread with melting butter, especially on a blustery March day. Quick breads are a satisfying alternative to yeast breads.

Makes 1 loaf


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low speed to combine.

Raise the speed to medium low and add the butter, a piece or two at a time, until all the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. This will take 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the currants, honey, caraway seeds, and orange zest and mix until evenly distributed. Add the buttermilk and orange juice and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky, until it is smooth and cohesive. Form the dough into a smooth, round loaf and transfer to a nonstick baking sheet. Make a crosshatch design on top of the loaf, using a blunt knife or fork to break the skin of the dough at 1-inch intervals. Sprinkle with a little flour. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the loaf is set and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let the bread cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: Because fresh buttermilk is not a staple in most houses, I keep buttermilk powder in the cupboard, which is easily reconstituted with water, following the instructions on the box. I find I use it more than you might think for quick breads, muffins and scones. You can buy it at whole-food markets. Of course, you can always sour milk to use as a replacement for buttermilk. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white distilled vinegar for every cup of milk.