Lifestyle

The Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe Ever

Even St. Patrick might have been tempted to overstay his welcome for a piece of this

It seems everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Grocery stores sell out of corned beef, and pubs are crawling with patrons drinking Guinness and forking down celebratory dishes like shepherd’s pie. But the most popular, and one of the oldest traditional foods out of the Emerald Isle, may be Irish soda bread.

Like many traditional breads from around the world, Irish soda bread is made with the most basic ingredients: flour, salt, soured milk and baking soda. It’s customary to carve the shape of a cross with a knife across the top before baking, and in Ireland the bread was shaped differently depending on the region — in the south it was a round loaf, and in the north it was more of a flat rounded disk cut into four equal triangle shapes. The bread is usually served with a meal, rather than eaten as a dessert, but in North America it is most popular as a breakfast food, or something to enjoy with coffee or tea in the mid-morning or afternoon.

While you can find Irish soda bread in many bakeries and grocery stores, it’s easy to make, and Aleteia English’s editor-in-chief, Elizabeth Scalia, claims to have the best Irish soda bread recipe ever, and blogger Deacon Greg Kandra claims it is true!

Scalia calls Irish soda bread “a delicious butter-delivery system” and is happy to share her mother-in-law’s famous recipe with Aleteia readers. (Her Italian mother-in-law, mind you.) So grab your pint of Guinness or a cup of Irish Breakfast tea and pull out your measuring cups.

Maria Lucia’s Irish Soda Bread

4 c sifted flour
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar (traditional or coconut palm sugar, which will darken the bread)
1 c raisins (traditional, or dried cranberries)
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk (or soured milk)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. In large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. In separate bowl, mix butter, eggs and buttermilk. Stir wet ingredients into the dry. Fold in raisins or cranberries. Form into round shape and carve a cross on the top. Place in a 2 quart pan (like a Pyrex) because it works the best. Bake for 1.25 hours.

Note: If you use coconut palm sugar, a reportedly healthier sweetener than white sugar, you will get the same degree of sweetness, but the bread will be browner.

As you place the bread in in the oven, or as a grace just before eating it, pray the prayer of St. Patrick:

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today
The power of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ on the deck,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
Zoe Romanowsky is lifestyle editor and video content producer for Aleteia.