Irish Soda Bread With Raisons
Over the years I’ve collected more than a dozen soda bread recipes and tried most of them for our annual St. Patrick’s dinners. The basic ingredients of soda bread are flour, baking soda and buttermilk. The addition of eggs, butter, milk, raisins, caraway, salt, sugar, baking powder, sour cream, vinegar, lemon, oats or bran to the basic recipe makes loaves unique to your family’s tastes.

This is a sweet bread, full of raisins, with vanilla, bran and oats, and a sweet, shiny crust from the addition of an egg yolk wash sprinkled with more sugar. This certainly isn’t a plain traditional loaf, but we love it. This is an easy bread to make, despite all the steps, which I’ve listed for you. Get all your ingredients and all your baking tools together before you start. The hardest part is taking it out when it’s done – not too early, not too late. The next hardest part is letting it cool before eating it, when the kitchen is full of the delicious aroma. Hard to resist!


  • 2 cups golden or dark raisins
  • ¼ – ½ cup Irish whiskey
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran, oat bran or plain oatmeal or mix of any
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 large farm-fresh egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or water
  • 2 tsp demerara sugar, or white sugar


I’ve noticed that there is very little difference after this bread is baked if the raisins have been plumped with whiskey or water – it’s all in the mind at that point. So use water, cider, brandy, whatever you have to plump the raisins, and it’s all fine.