An Irish Recipe and Blessing


Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all!

This is the day to be celebrating all things Irish, sharing shenanigans and wearing green. At least that’s how North Americans seem to celebrate, along with perhaps raising a pint of ale or Guinness. We make more of St. Patrick’s Day here than they do in Ireland.

Since I can’t ignore my Irish roots I always have to do something special to mark the occasion. Most often it’s just the wearing of a bit o’ green, but my family will vouch for my tendency to doctor normally un-green foods until they turn a shamrock shade – for instance, green porridge for breakfast, or perhaps cereal with green milk, maybe a lunchtime sandwich with green cream cheese filling, or green Jello for dessert.

However, now that our children have moved on and I can no longer embarrass them with such things in their school lunches, I’m more restrained. I’m thinking of making my favourite Irish Soda Bread recipe today. (It’s tame, I know, but then you never can tell if I’ll give in to a leprechaun’s temptation and add a little green colouring to the buttermilk.)

I’m told there are two kinds of soda bread… a cake type that is normally kneaded and baked in an oven, and a farl type that is rolled out into a circle and cut crosswise into four equal quarters to bake on a griddle. While the farl type is apparently preferred more in the north of Ireland where my family originated, and the cake type in the south, my recipe happens to be the cake kind. It’s a little sweeter than the traditional loaf, too, but very tasty. I’ll share it as my St. Paddy’s Day gift to you.



4 c. flour
¼ c. white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
¼ c. butter (I’ve used margarine, too)
1-1/3 c. buttermilk
1 egg

Sift dry ingredients together and cut in butter.
Blend in buttermilk, egg and soda to make a dough that can be kneaded.
Turn onto floured board and knead gently until smooth.
Shape into ball, and place in greased 2-qt. casserole.
(You can also bake it on a cookie sheet if you prefer.)
Brush top with egg yolk or cream and slash a deep “+” on it.
Bake @ 350oF oven until done (about 45-60 minutes, or until bottom crust sounds hollow when tapped).
Wrap loaf in tea towel and cool 1 hour before cutting.


 Go n-eírí an bóthar leat

~  ~  ~


13 thoughts on “An Irish Recipe and Blessing

  1. Your cake-like soda bread sounds delicious. I have a recipe for the other kind with raisins in it. It’s very easy to make and I’ve never had a failure with it. Maybe I’ll make a loaf today, and maybe it will be your cake-like recipe. But, alas, I don’t have buttermilk. I shall copy the recipe for another day. I am French, German, English, and Irish. In my mind I can still hear my grandmother play on the piano the song When Irish Eyes Are Smiling… 🎶 Thank you for the recipe! Blessings to you…

    • careann says:

      Carol Ann – This recipe actually calls for 2 c. raisins as an optional ingredient but I gather traditional everyday soda bread in Ireland doesn’t contain any fruit. If raisins are added for a treat they call it tea bread. Then again, there are many different recipes so if you like raisins, why not. And if you don’t have buttermilk you can fake it by adding 1 tsp. of lemon juice or vinegar to sweet milk and let it sit fifteen minutes until it sours.

      My grandparents brought Italian, French, Irish and English to my mix. It was my Dad that I most remember playing the popular Irish songs on his button melodion. We have good memories, don’t we? 🙂

  2. Katt says:

    I just read about “Irish Soda Bread” this morning…..and NOW you are giving us the recipe! It sounds wonderful.
    I love Saint Patrick’s Day!
    Top O The Morning to Ya Lassie!

    • careann says:

      Katt – Mine is only one recipe, and probably not the most traditional. I don’t remember where it came from, only that I’ve had it in my recipe collection forever, along with a Beer Bread recipe that likely isn’t Irish at all. I’ve found all sorts of hints online for making the two kinds of soda bread. There’s good series of videos at

  3. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, Carol. This Italian had an Irish father-in-law, a still has an Irish sister-in-law whose parents spoke The Irish. Love the sound of it and have many characters with that slight song of the brogue. Moons ago, I made the old man traditional Irish Soda Bread. As he ate it he said, “It’s not too bad for an I-tie.”

    Love your recipe for the cake type. Today the I-tie will celebrate with her one quarter Irish kids, and call her grand Irish sister-in-law and raise a glass. “May you get to heaven ten minutes before the devil finds out you’re dead.” 🙂

    • careann says:

      Florence – Ah, now there’s another good Irish blessing, too. Mine translates as “May the road rise with you”, which is better known as, “May the road rise to meet you; may the wind be always at your back.” I also like, “May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home,” and “May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow.” As the rain pelts down this morning, the last one might be the most appropriate!

  4. Shari Green says:

    Mmm, I think I’ll have to make some, but it won’t be today — heading in for nightshift later. But next week, maybe some soup or stew and a loaf of Irish Soda Bread. 🙂

  5. Shari Green says:

    PS — go for the green food colouring! 😉

  6. Happy St. Patrick’s Day Carol!!

  7. Laura Best says:

    As a child, my dad would jokingly say that his grandfather was run out of Ireland for stealing sheep, a claim that I Iater learned was stated by many people with Irish roots. I’m sure he came during the potato famine.

    Have you tried this recipe with spelt flour? It’s good!

  8. joylene says:

    I did bake cookies to celebrate but that’s only because I know the recipe off my heart. Your recipe sounds yummy though. You’re inspiring, Carol. Look all you do, and then you do more. You’re like one of them little energized bunnies.

    ps. At first I thought you’d written fart type of bread. LOL

  9. careann says:

    Your comments leave me smiling, Shari, Darlene, Laura and Joylene. DH and I finished the day with an Irish Stew Dinner and evening of good old St. Patrick’s Day entertainment at our church. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the remainder of your weekend, too.

  10. I’ve never made it, but I think I’ll try it this week. Even though SP Day has passed.

    My dad loves to color food–and it doesn’t have to be anything special about the day–just that he makes it special by serving up red or green pancakes.

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