Monday, March 15, 2010

(A Lighter) Irish Soda Bread

Reaching back into the Cook's Tour archives for two terrific Irish Soda Bread recipes just in time for next week's St Patrick's Day festivities! What are your baking plans for this holiday? Leave a comment below. 

I recently subscribed to The Baking Sheet from King Arthur Flour and received my first issue last week.  And during a leisurely train ride on Sunday from Virginia to New Jersey I had time to leaf through the early Spring issue.  I love Irish Soda Bread so this recipe for Limerick Soda Bread caught my attention, but what really stood out was the fact that each slice has only 64 calories and 1 gram of fat. There is no sacrifice of taste here and I love the spongy feel to the bread and the play of the sweet and savory flavors. This recipe is courtesy of Ariel's Restaurant in Brookfield, Vermont. 

Some of you may remember my St Paddy's Day posting from 2009 with my usual go-to recipe: Barbara's Irish Soda Bread.  Well, this new lighter version has all the requisite ingredients, such as buttermilk, baking powder, raisins, etc., but it's a more traditional rendition than the 2009 recipe because it calls for whole fennel seeds.  Barbara's recipe is sweeter and more cake-like.  Believe me, they're both delicious and you won't go wrong with either one.

I took this up-close photo so you could see the tremendous height you get with this bread.  It's a good 2" high. 

Back to the train ride. I had a work event in Virginia over the weekend and while I was away, a huge Nor'easter blew across the mid-Atlantic states. We're talking torrential rain with wind gusts of 60 mph in some places. There was flooding, downed power lines and trees torn out of their roots all over the tri-state area. All flights in/out of the area were canceled on Saturday and if they weren't canceled, they were backed up for hours. So rather than risk being stuck at the Richmond airport all day on Sunday, I opted to ride the rails. I grabbed a business class ticket, arrived at the beautiful 1901 Beaux Arts Richmond Main Street station about 30 minutes before departure, and then settled in for the trip. Complementary beverages, NY Times, power outlets at your seat, and the landscape of America rolling by your window. You see every kind of town on a train - from the quaint charm of Ashland, Virginia to gritty industrial towns like Rahway, New Jersey. But when the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol appeared right in front of me, I thought, more people (including me) ought to take advantage of this mode of transportation and really see America. Even while waiting in the station, there was a sense of unhurriedness - a throwback to a time when the country operated at a more relaxed and genteel pace. 

The six-hour ride gave me time to read not only The Baking Sheet newsletter, but also the complete Sunday NY Times, two magazines, and watch an old episode of Monk on my iPod. But for a good portion of the trip, I just watched the scenery as it came to me. There's something to be said for traveling this way if you've got the time. Even if you don't, you might want to make time. 

Happy St Patricks Day to you!

Limerick Soda Bread (courtesy The Baking Sheet and Ariel's Restaurant)

3-1/2 C all-purpose flour

1/4 C sugar
1 t salt
4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 C whole fennel seeds
1 C dried currants or golden raisins
1 LG egg
2 C buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour, or spray with pan spray, a 10" round cake pan.

In large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk until well mixed. Add fennel seeds and currants/raisins and mix well.

Whisk together egg and buttermilk in small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir with spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be quite stiff. Scrape into the prepared pan and spread out to cover pan evenly. Bake until golden brown, about 50 min. Cool before removing from pan. Yield: 40 slices, 1/2" x 4-6".

Per serving: 64 cal, 1g fat, 1g fiber, 13 carb

Print Recipe Here!


  1. Love the sound (and height) of this. Thanks for posting!

  2. Hi, Bernadette. Thanks for reading The Cook's Tour! Did you try this Irish Soda Bread?
    Best wishes,
    Visit my blog:
    On Mar 26, 2010, at 9:23 AM, Comments wrote:


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