Irish Soda Bread – Why mess with a good thing?

My Grandma wasn’t a fancy cook.  On the other hand, the recipes that she passed down to me are ones that I reach for time and time again.  They are tried, true and most importantly, good.  Her pancakes, her biscuits and of course her Irish Soda Bread (because, well that’s what today’s post is about), are ones I’m sure my daughters will use when they leave home.  I’m a creative girl, but there are just some things one doesn’t mess with.  Grandma’s recipes are such things.

On the Riggin, I’ll often serve this with New England Boiled Dinner, a traditional staple and a perfect meal for St. Patrick’s Day.

irish soda bread for st. patricks day

Shows the cross cut before going into the oven.


The recipe times two make four loaves for a crowd (or a boat load)!

Irish Soda Bread
This is another recipe passed down through the women in my family.  I’ve used dried apricots or raisins in place of the currants (my only nod to my inner creative).  I’ll also change it by leaving out the caraway seeds which is how my children prefer it.

The recipe calls for sour milk, which we now mostly call buttermilk, but in honor of my Grandma, I’ve left the orginal language.  To actually make sour milk, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the 1 3/4 cup of milk and let sit for 1 to 5 minutes to curdle.  Then add to recipe as instructed.

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup currants
1 1/2 cups sour milk, plus 2 tablespoons – extra if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Mix in the sugar, caraway seeds and currants.  Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the milk with your hands until a ball forms. If there are still little bits of flour that are not incorporated, add a little bit more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a complete ball.

Turn onto floured board and knead until smooth (about 5-10 turns).  Cut the dough in half and shape into two 6″ round loaves.  Place the loaves on a cookie pan.  Make two cuts on top of the loaves in the shape of a cross.  Bake for 40 minutes or until the top and bottoms are golden brown and a long toothpick or fork comes clean when inserted into the center of a loaf.

Cool before slicing.

Makes 2 loaves

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


  • […] Maine Today has a round up of St. Patrick’s Day events, with something for everyone from a charity dip and 5K to live music and drink specials. If you plan to stay in and avoid the crowds of the Old Port, Anne Mahle, cook and captain of the Maine Windjammer J&R Riggin, shared her guests’ favorite recipe for Irish Soda Bread. […]

  • Norm Lampton
    March 16, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Thanks Captain: I am going to try this.
    Erin Go Braugh

    • Annie
      March 19, 2013 at 7:44 am

      I knew you might be happy about this one! Make sure, Norm, that it’s sour milk or buttermilk. If not, you’ll need to use less milk and it really makes a difference in how the loaves set up.

      Happy baking!

  • Cindy Frederick
    March 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how much I enjoy receiving your emails with recipes and a little bit of Maine. Keeps me thinking of the trip we took! Anytime I need to relax I think of Maine and the Riggin. Hope to come back soon!!

    • Annie
      March 19, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Hi Cindy,
      So glad that the Riggin is one of your ‘happy places.’ Everyone deserves a place they can go in person or in their minds! We’ll be here when you are ready for the ‘in person’ version again!


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