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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Irish Fruit Soda Cake (Bread)

I have recently been entering a few agricultural shows with my cooking, for fun. Although when it came down to it, it was a lot of hard work to get perfect items ready for a certain time ! Bread, and most cakes, are at their best the same day that they are cooked, which means you end up trying to make perfect versions of everything within a few hours of the show and not sleeping !

I was lucky enough to win with at least 50% of my entries - so I recouped the cost of everything, as well as my petrol to the shows. It was a very interesting experience to be on the receiving end, instead of the one organising everything! I learnt a lot.

Here is my recipe for Fruit Soda Cake - Irish of course, what other kind is there ?

Brown and white soda bread is in fact called white soda cake and brown soda cake in Ireland, not bread. Even though it is bread. This is the same for the Fruit Soda Cake, aka Fruit Soda Bread...

I have noticed that most 'Irish Soda Bread' recipes on the internet, aren't in fact that, they are recipes for Fruit Soda Cake (really a bread), which is a very different beast. Many Irish Americans (and people from other countries too with Irish ancestors) give lovely stories about how the recipe was passed down to them by their great great great great granny who left Ireland many years ago - in another world. They then reel of the ingredients for Fruit Soda Cake (bread), not the real day to day brown soda cake (bread). Their great (x3) granny wouldn't have had eggs for cakes (unless they had a smallholding and some land), let alone raisins. They were extremely poor and were lucky to even get salt.

Actual Irish Soda Bread contains simply wholewheat flour, bread soda (baking soda), real buttermilk and a bit of salt. And this is all it contains to this day. The only exception would be that some people now prefer white flour to the brown four.

Having said all that, todays recipe is for Irish Fruit Soda Cake (bread).

Irish Fruit Soda Cake

1lb white plain Flour
2.5 tablespoons Caster Sugar
4 tablespoons normal salted Butter
1 large egg (beaten)
1 & 3/4 cups of real Buttermilk
1 cup Raisins
1 teaspoon Baking or Bread Soda
1 teaspoon Salt

1.     Put the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda all together into a large bowl and mix them in together well with your fingers.

2.     Add in the raisins, having made sure that there are no stalks etc left attached to them. Stir them in well so that they are coated with the flour mixture.

4.     Beat the egg in a small bowl.

5.     Add the buttermilk to the beaten egg and mix it together well, until blended.

6.     Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, then pour the buttermilk and egg into the middle.

7.     Using your fingers (and not a wooden spoon) in a claw like action, mix the buttermilk mix into the flour. With the claw shape with your fingers, use a circular motion from the sides of the bowl to the middle and back, continuous and circular around the bowl.
Do this until the ingredients are all well blended and the mixture is quite sticky, yet one lump.

8.     Clean your hands.

9.     Dust a good baking tray with flour.

10.    Lift the lump of dough onto the baking tray, making sure that it is a circular shape on the outside and raised a bit in the middle.

11.    With a serrated knife cut a 1/2 inch deep cut across the dough in the shape of a cross.
This allows the insides of the cake (bread) to cook at the same time as the outside.

12.    Bake in the middle of an oven, covered with tin foil, at 200C for 40 minutes.
I used a sponge tin for this one,
as all my baking trays had scones on them at the time !

13.    When cooked the bottom will sound hollow, just like when you cook yeast bread.

14.    Let the fruit soda cake/bread cool on the tray for 15 minutes. Then take it off and wrap it in a clean tea towel or a cotton towel to cool completely.

Eat this while it is very fresh, with a good butter and maybe some blackcurrant jam !

I store all my soda bread in cloth, rather than in a tin etc.


  1. OK... And where is my pancakes recipe? ;)


  2. Oppps I forgot Olivia !! Sorry !

  3. cant see where the 4 tablespoons of butter are used