When we were living in Milwaukee, our local grocery store made raisin-studded, sugar-crusted Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day every year, and it blew my mind. It wasn't exactly authentic, but it was dang good.
Since I couldn't walk down the street to the store to pick up soda bread this year, I set out to duplicate it at home. Traditional buttermilk and all-purpose flour for simplicity. Baking soda and baking powder for a little rise, salt for flavor, and sugar because that's how I roll. (I said it wasn't authentic, okay?) Studded with raisins and sprinkled with coarse sugar crystals to guild the lily.
I was giddy with excitement when I pulled this baby out of the oven. The scent alone was absolutely tantalizing. The sugar glittered on the golden crust like treasure at the end of a rainbow.
So I ate a quarter of the loaf for dinner.
Tender and rich with just enough sweetness. Raisins in every bite. Crisp with sugar crystals. Holy cow. The luck of the Irish is with you today, folks, because this bread is good.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Irish Soda Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons milk (You might not need it all.)
1 tablespoon coarse sugar crystals (I used Sugar in the Raw.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir in melted butter until the mixture looks crumbly. Stir in buttermilk and raisins until the dough just comes together in a shaggy mixture.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly-floured counter. Knead just until the dough comes together in a smooth ball, about 10 times. Pat dough into an 8" circle and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush top of dough with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Use a knife to cut a large "X" on the top of the loaf.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.