Irish Soda Bread



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, caraway seeds, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter. Work the butter into the flour mixture with either your fingers or a pastry cutter until no large pieces remain (Stir in raisins if using). If you use your fingers, work the butter into the flour in a snapping motion.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour the buttermilk into the well. Gently stir the flour mixture into the buttermilk until all the buttermilk is absorbed.
  4. Dust the counter lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the counter. Knead the dough a few times. No need to be aggressive. Too much kneading makes for a tough bread. Simply knead until a dough ball forms. Then stop.
  5. Place dough on baking sheet. Cut a cross, about 1-inch deep, into dough with a sharp knife. Not only is this traditional but it also helps the loaf to bake evenly. Don't skip it.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F. Then reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about 25 additional minutes.
  7. Remove pan from oven. Allow loaf to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool for an additional 15 minutes or so. Serve warm or at room temperature. This bread is best eaten
    the day it's baked. 
Recipe Notes:
Take the butter out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before making the dough. This takes the chill off of the butter but it doesn't soften it too much!