Sláinte! A just-sweet-enough American-Irish soda bread.

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day!

Green clothes. Green cabbage. Green cookies.

Green beer.

Sorry… I just couldn’t bear to make green bread.

After all, why ruin the creamy-gold good looks of this traditional American-Irish soda bread? Studded with currants, laced with caraway seeds (or not), it’s chewy and light – more bread than cake, unlike many American soda breads.

Plus most of its sweetness comes from the currants, and a crunchy sugar crust. I can see this spread with butter; or toasted, and served with orange marmalade. And lime marmalade.

Green… AND orange.

Now there’s the perfectly PC way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

Put the following in a mixing bowl:

3 cups Perfect Pastry Blend OR King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
heaping 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup currants (first choice) or raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional

Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Can you use white whole wheat flour? Yes; substitute 1 cup white whole wheat for 1 cup of the all-purpose flour.

Can you up the percentage of whole wheat? Yes; just be aware, the more whole wheat you add, the denser your bread will be.

Stir together 1 large egg, and 1 3/4 cups buttermilk.

No buttermilk? Use one 6-ounce container plain yogurt and 1 cup milk in place of the buttermilk.

Can you use low-fat dairy? Yes, the bread will be less tender. Can you use nonfat dairy? Yes, the bread will be tough. Let your conscience be your guide.

Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Add 4 tablespoons melted butter…

…and mix briefly, just to combine.

The batter will be quite thick.

Spoon it into the prepared loaf pan.

Drizzle with 1 tablespoon milk; then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coarse white sugar.

Note how the milk is pooling around the edges of the pan. Next time, I’d take a spoon or my finger and make a little moat right around the edge of the batter, to force the milk more towards the center. You’ll see why later.

Bake the bread for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

When it’s finished, the temperature of the bread at its center will range between 200°F and 210°F, as measured with an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the bread from the oven, and loosen its sides with a heatproof spatula or table knife. After 5 minutes, turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

Nice crackly-crunchy crust, eh?

But see the darkened corner? That’s from milk running down the inside of the pan and burning; thus the “batter moat” suggested earlier.

Slice when completely cool.

Enjoy as is; or with butter. Or toasted, with the aforementioned orange and lime marmalades.

Sigh… OK, have it your way. Yes, you CAN color this bread with green food coloring. But don’t ask me how much, I’m just not going there!

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for American Irish Soda Bread.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. "Christian T"

    I can’t figure out this moat thing. Neither here nor on the recipe page. On the recipe page it seems you are making a moat between the batter and the pan. Here it seems that the moat is somewhere on the surface of the batter.

    In either case it seems you are going to have a pool of milk to burn.


    It took me a second to catch on to what the goal is with this drizzle. The picture shows a “moat” around the edge of the pan. The goal was to have been more of a puddle over the center of the loaf. When scooping the batter into the pan, you want the sides higher than the center. Frank @ KAF.

  2. Janet B

    What if I don’t have buttermilk or yogurt, but I do have sour cream? Would that work in place of the yogurt?

    The sour cream is a little too thick alone. Try using a 50:50 blend of sour cream:milk. Frank @ KAF.

  3. HMB

    On the subject of green bread: Many years ago, we had WAAAAYYY too much lettuce in the garden. I went to the library to look at cookbooks to get some ideas for lettuce — in one, I found a recipe for lettuce bread! It was a sweet quickbread and it got a lovely green color from the lettuce. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the recipe, or I’d share it — it would be perfect for St. Pat’s Day!

  4. helenfl

    I really try to follow a recipe as it is written the first time. I don’t usually buy pastry flour, how will the bread be different compared to using AP, if I decide to get it?

    With all-purpose, the loaf will be slightly firmer. Frank @ KAF.

  5. catielb

    How much buttermilk powder / water would you recommend using? I’m thinking a little less than half a cup of powder and the full one and three fourths cups of water? I always get confused trying to figure out the conversion. 🙂 Thanks for what looks like a great recipe! I’m a big KA fan.

    I think you’re right on, Catie – that’s what I’d do. Enjoy – PJH

  6. Sue

    A heaping 1/2 c of sugar? I have never seen that seems that one persons heaping might be different than another. Maybe 1/2 c plus 1 tbsp?
    That measurement sounds reasonable for a heaping half cup! ~Amy

    If you look at the weight, a heaping half cup (at least the way I heaped!) is a scant 2/3 cup. So I’d make it 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons… PJH

  7. sheilasbaking

    This is my “go to” recipe for Irish soda bread and has been for years. I’m making it tonight to bring to the office tomorrow. It’s excellent every time. I use the KA white 12 inch loaf pan which gives me smaller slices than the 9×5. Yum.]

  8. mumpy

    just recently came across this:
    “slainte” is pronounced slawn-cha.
    so, top o’ the mornin’ to all of you on St Patrick’s day!

    Thanks – and the same to you! PJH

  9. melhuhta

    I’d like to try to make this bread but I really need a carb count on it. Living with a Type 1 diabetic having nutritional info is SUPER important. Can you post the nutritional information please?

    Sorry, don’t have the nutritional info… This is a real shortcoming, our inability to post nutritionals consistently, and we’re working on it. In the meantime, have you checked out software for figuring out recipe nutritionals? I’m betting it would be a big help to you. PJH

  10. csigirl

    I don’t have coarse sugar on hand. Would regular sugar work on top, or should I skip it all together?

    Sure – it won’t be crunchy nor look as pretty, but it’ll add sweetness. Go for it – PJH

  11. jeanne1223

    I made this tonight because I just couldn’t resist after seeing the pictures – it turned out beautifully – but it’s a little too sweet for me – especially with the caraway seeds. I don’t think I’m used to soda bread that is this sweet (perhaps I didn’t get the heaping sugar measurement right?). I think I’d tone down the sugar next time and skip the caraway seeds. But it does look very pretty and the moat worked!

    Glad to hear the moat worked, Jeanne. Try leaving the sugar off the top – that adds a lot of sweetness. And you could try cutting the sugar in the batter back to a scant 1/2 cup… and if the texture is still OK, you could cut it back a bit more. Enjoy – PJH

  12. Irene in TO

    To measure rehydrated buttermilk or similar, measure the powder into a 2 cup measure. Add water slowly until the level reaches to right amount, stirring with a fork or whisk.

    I prefer to mix buttermilk powder in with the flour. Measure the water and use until the mixture reaches the right consistency. I tend to use a full measure of water and unbleached all-purpose flour and it always bakes perfectly. I would personally add 1/4 teaspoon of Bakewell Cream over and above the leavening listed here.

    FYI a “heaped” measure is 1/3 more than the level. This works for cups and spoons when measuring–and the maximum level is fairly easy to reproduce. So a heaped half cup of sugar will weigh about the same as 2/3 level cup.

  13. Maureen

    I already made two loaves of Irish Tea Brack tonight- my favorite St. Patrick’s Day treat – for tomorrow’s guests, so I’ll save this for the weekend. Looks beautiful!

    Maureen, thanks for the reminder; I love tea brack, too. Happy St. Pat’s! PJH

  14. Julie

    OMG! I just pulled this loaf out of the oven and it is unbelievable! I bake all of my own bread because I may be soy intolerant. Any home baked bread is better than store bought, but this takes the cake (or loaf)! I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of all purpose flour, raisins, buttermilk and I did add the caraway seeds. I did not have coarse sugar, but I did have turbinado sugar which has slightly larger grains and it worked pretty well. Since my moat did not work out as planned I got a little bit of a dark color around the edges. I thought I better cut that dark edge off since I am taking this to my in-laws for a corned beef and cabbage dinner. Of course I tried it and that dark crusty edge was just a little bit of heaven! I highly recommend this bread-I will be making this all year long.

  15. ebenezer94

    Yum, that was delicious. I made it with half whole wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose flour, and it had a great texture. I used raisins, but I’d like to try it with currents in the future (didn’t have any). I left out the caraway and, like Julie, used turbinado sugar on top. I ignored the whole moat thing and just sprinkled the sugar on top with no buttermilk (or, rather, yogurt since my buttermilk had turned into a solid lump in the carton).

    I agree that it was very sweet. More like a typical tea cake bread that a proper bread-bread, if you know what I mean. But still delicious.

  16. Linda U.

    I made this over the weekend and it turned out perfectly!! And it was yummy. If you don’t have buttermilk or don’t want to buy the entire container for one recipe, just add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to regular milk. Works just fine.

  17. jenaij

    Do you think this would work with KAF’s GF flour? And maybe a little xanthan gum?

    I wouldn’t go there, no. Much better to start with our Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffin recipe, and substitute raisins/currants for blueberries, omit the nutmeg, and add caraway seeds, if desired. Enjoy! PJH

  18. Nwanne

    I can’t get this right. Twice I made this and it didn’t come out fine. The first time, I made it following the recipe without any change. It was too wet. The second time, I used 1 and 1/2 cups of water. It still looks too moist. What could I be doing wrong? The temperature on both days was about 30 degrees centigrade, quite warm (I live in Nigeria). Does that have any bearing? I bake other kinds of bread and they turn out fine. Please help! Sorry this is so long but I would like to get it right.

    Sounds like it could be any number of things, please send us an email and we will help you work it out. JDB

  19. Barb

    I have a friend who has a secret recipe that seems like this but there is definitely corn meal in it. Can you add corn meal to a recipe like this? What ratio for the 3 cups?
    I would start with 1/4- 1/2 cup cornmeal at first to see if the results resemble the outcome of your friend’s recipe. ~Amy

  20. crcbrothers

    I would love to keep the circular shape of a traditional soda bread. Would this recipe work in a dutch oven pan or other circular shaped pan?

    I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with either of these pans! Give it a try and let us know how it works.-Jon

  21. PikaNYC

    Fantastic recipe, but if you want a somewhat firmer, more crumbly (but not dry) soda bread, I’d suggest using only about 1 cup of buttermilk. I discovered this when I accidentally “messed up” the recipe and didn’t use enough, but I find that I prefer it to the very cakelike soda bread I ended up with when I followed the recipe exactly. Using 1 cup of buttermilk produces a dough more similar in consistency to a scone than a cake.

  22. Laureen

    The pooling around the edges of the pan seem like a whole lot more than one tbsp milk
    Am I misunderstanding something?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      No, Laureen, it’s very shallow around the edges, and it did spread out, but honest, it’s just 1 tablespoon! Enjoy – PJH

  23. George

    can this recipe be molded into round loaves and cross cut on top (typical looking soda bread)? Not sure if dough is to loose

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Of course! Simply reduce the baking time to about 18-22 minutes. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

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