Grandpa George’s Irish Soda Bread


Every Saint Patrick’s Day my Grandpa George made his signature Irish Soda Bread. It was simply a magical event. Simple ingredients, mixed and molded with care, would transform into the most wonderful bread. The house would be filled with the sweet scent of his bread. As soon as I could stand on a chair next to him at the counter, I got to help. When I was away at school, packages of carefully wrapped bread would arrive at the campus post office. I love to bake and I tried to change the recipe… There were the whole grain attempts, swapping out honey for sugar, and an ill fated yogurt addition. Over the years I learned to make soda bread just like Grandpa and learned that some things are perfect as they are. There are a few important things about making Grandpa’s bread.  Measurements are a suggestion. Be patient and let the buttermilk, egg and baking soda do their bubbly thing is essential. You must cut the bread before baking as he would say “to let the devil out”.  Despite his recipe title, you must not add caraway seeds. Sticky is good. You must have fun. The bread will know… And share!

When Celeste and I got married we gave each of our guests a copy of this recipe and our recipe for Fig Challah. Something Old… Something New. Here are a few photos of this year’s bread and Grandpa’s recipe in his own hand.  Enjoy!
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