Not just for St. Patrick’s Day, Irish Soda Bread with Tart Cherries is great all year round. Baking soda makes it rise and there is no kneading or waiting!
I have a smidgeon of Irish blood or at least I think I do. My maternal grandfather died when I was very young so I have only one recollection of him and while I’ve heard he was Irish and English I have no proof of that. My niece is doing one of those DNA tests…guess we’ll find out soon!
Still, for the moment I’m sticking with it and as a result I celebrated St. Paddy’s Day with neighbors and made my version of an Irish dinner. Because I am at most 1/8 Irish, I took great liberty with the dishes I made. I’ll be sharing my Chili Pie (like Shepherd’s Pie but with Chili and Guinness topped with potatoes) soon but today simply HAD to get this recipe to you. It was absolutely perfect.
I was initially inspired to make Irish Soda Bread after sampling some at Sprouts Farmers Market last week. Sampling some and then buying two loaves that is! It was unexpected…and sweet. I know I’ve had savory versions but none of them quite hit the mark like their sweeter version. Loaded with raisins and liberally topped with large grain sugar, I just loved it.
When I mentioned to a friend I wanted to make some, she shared her absolute love for the sweet version on her blog; albeit without raisins or the sugar on top. Worked for me and with some slight modifications on my part rivaled what I had brought home from Sprouts. Wait, not rivaled…was even better.
The ease of this bread is a big part of the beauty. Baking soda is the leavening agent instead of yeast so there is no need for kneading or waiting for it to rise. My kind of bread for sure! I wanted to further mimic Sprouts though so I headed to the pantry for raisins…and had none. I had just purchased these Tart Montmorency Cherries cherries at Costco and could see no harm in this substitution; loved them so much more than raisins.
The other thing Sprouts did was to cover the top and sides with a large grain sugar. While their sugar appeared to be a white granulated sugar, I pulled out the Demerara Sugar I always have in the pantry for my coffee and used it. I don’t think the extra sweetness was required so don’t pile it on too thick, it’s that slight crunch on top that makes it extra special.
What did my company think? They thought they needed two slices each and then the ten year old twin girls gave me that look. I know that look well; it read all over their face, ‘Can we take some home with us?’ As much as I loved this bread, I love them more and sent a big chunk home.
This recipe makes a big loaf of bread and supposedly serves 20. Haha…no way was anyone eating only one-half slice but it sure made enough that five of us had it with dinner and even after parting with some I still had a couple of slices left for my breakfast the next day. I’m going to suggest you really treat yourself and try it with Kerrygold Irish Butter too. Amazing.
I have to make this again…and certainly will not wait until March 17th of next year. This is going to be a regular rotation in my kitchen and I’ve already made a 2nd variation that I’ll share soon…one made with Guinness, oatmeal, brown sugar and some orange zest. If I hadn’t messed up royally and forgotten the butter (!) I would offer it up on Monday…but I need to make it again and review it with ALL the ingredients. Oops.