Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey-Soaked Raisins

in Breakfast, Sides

Irish Soda Bread

Like everything else in this world, I have an opinion about Irish Soda Bread. For years I thought that Irish Soda Bread should stick to being traditional.

Not that I’m a traditional girl, by any means, but I dunno…there’s something to a recipe that’s purpose is to be made, eaten and enjoyed with minimal ingredients, effort and time. Irish Soda Bread’s history is rooted in this notion, so to make it fancy just seemed rude.

So, when it came to make traditional, normal Irish Soda Bread I really wanted to stick to the plan, but I swayed.

Butter lured me, so did whiskey, as it always seems too. The added additions and tweaks are welcomed. I mean, a lot of people complain about traditional Irish Soda Bread tasting dry, crumb-ey and just overall bland.

Irish Soda Bread

This Irish Soda Bread is the exact opposite of all of those things.

And I’m pretty sure it mostly has to do with these raisins…soaked and macerated in Irish Whiskey.

Irish Whiskey and Raisins

Now, while I made a few adjustments here and there, this recipe sticks to the Irish-Soda-Bread mantra and is super easy to make, requiring only one bowl. But the soaking of the raisins does take at least 6 hours.

The payoff is worth it. They won’t taste crazy like whiskey. Just a hint! Yet more caramelized and sweeter than before.

There’s all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry, brown sugar (I like the added molasses which works lovely with the raisins), salt and baking soda. And of course, since I’m adding cold butter, I use the box grater technique. Makes for an easier time.

The dry ingredients are mixed. The cold butter is broken up and evenly distributed throughout the flour mixture.

The raisins are drained and then added. The buttermilk gets poured in and the entire thing is brought together with a wooden spoon and it then looks like this:

This bread is what you want to bake when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, and then even more hours cleaning dishes.

One bowl, fifteen minutes and an hour to bake. That’s all you need.

You’ll be met with a golden brown, raisin-speckled loaf that tastes like heaven when smothered in butter, sprinkled with salt and topped with some raisin-whiskey butter sauce (recipe below). This bread is a cross between a traditional Irish Soda Bread and a scone. The interior is dense, flavorful, slightly sweet and when you come across a raisin, you’re more than delighted (says the ex-raisins hater). It’s baking magic.

Yes. Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is cool.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey-Soaked Raisins

Print this recipe!

1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can use regular whole wheat flour, too!)
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, shaken

1. To a small bowl, mix together the raisins and Irish whiskey. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to macerate overnight or at least 6 hours. Drain the raisins, reserving the Irish whiskey/raisin liquid for making a syrup (if you like!) later on in the recipe. Set both aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment; set aside. (You could also bake this bread in a cast iron skillet, if you like. Be sure the skillet is seasoned and lightly greased so the bottom won’t stick.)

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. Using a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients and mix quickly, being sure the butter is broken up into pea-sized bits. Next, add the raisins and toss them gently in the flour mixture so they are evenly distributed.

4. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, mix it together until it forms a shaggy ball. Drop the soda bread dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead a few times, being sure to not over handle it, which will result in tough bread. Form the soda bread into a 1 1/2-inch thick disc. Using a knife, score the top, forming an X, and brush it with buttermilk.

5. Transfer the soda bread to the baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, and until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm with plenty of butter, a sprinkling of sea salt and maybe the whiskey/raisin sauce that is below.

Bonus Whiskey/Raisin Sauce:

The origin of this recipe is waste not! And work with what you got, so after I was left with this delicious looking raisins/Whiskey mixture, I figured I should use it someway, somehow.

1. To a small saucepan, add the whiskey/raisin juice and turn the heat to medium. Once the mixture reaches a simmer, add 2 teaspoons of butter. Turn the heat down to medium-low and mix until the butter is melted. The water in the butter will begin to cook out, resulting in foam. We don’t want that business, so using a teaspoon, skim the foam off the top and discard. You should be left with a little less than 1/4 of a cup of goodness. Drizzle on top of bread and enjoy.

Irish Soda Bread

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Averie Cooks March 13, 2013 at 12:44 am

Fabulous bread! And I think ALL raisins should be whiskey soaked, all the time :)

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Anne @The Cooking Campaign March 13, 2013 at 4:07 am

I love that the butter “lured” you! Irish soda bread is one of my favorites to make and this look like a delicious twist.

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Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe March 13, 2013 at 5:26 am

If I have to say the truth, I’ve never made Irish Soda Bread, even if I’ve heard lots of positive things about it…it’s just that it is not a traditional food here in Italy…but with this post you’ve totally convinced me to try it out! Now it’s on my baking list!

xo, Elisa

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Tieghan March 13, 2013 at 5:54 am

Whiskey soaked rasins?!? That is genius!

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Little Kitchie March 13, 2013 at 7:12 am

I just made soda bread for the first time last weekend and was blown away by how simple it is! And with whiskey soaked raisins?! Yes, yes, yes.

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pooja March 13, 2013 at 9:06 am

love irish soda bread…and look at those cute green nails!

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Adrianna March 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

Happy coincidence!

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Tasha @ Homemade March 13, 2013 at 9:27 am

You had me at whiskey soaked. .. yes please!!!

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Adri {Food-N-Thought} March 13, 2013 at 9:36 am

Just yesterday I was in the process of bookmarking some soda bread recipes to give it a try this weekend, I think this one takes the cake… or should I say the bread :P

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Meghan {For the Love of Dessert} March 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm

All I gots to say to this is… yes! yes. YES. Making this.

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Stacey March 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Boozy bread. Yes.

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Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen March 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I’ve always really enjoyed Irish soda bread, but you just made it even better with those whiskey raisins. Would it be okay if I just made those for a snack? :)

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Janel from Creating Tasty Stories March 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Irish Soda Bread is good. Your version sounds extra yummy. Can adding a bit of whiskey ever be bad? I don’t think so. :)

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Kasha the FarmGirl March 13, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Absolutely stunning! And slathered with vanilla-honey butter is my favorite :)

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Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking March 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Raisin whiskey butter sauce…. Oh my. I often found Irish soda bread ry and this just may turn my opinion around. I mean I am a whiskey drinker so I have to like this, right. So goooood!

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Michelle March 13, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I am soaking my raisins in whiskey right now, excited to make this bread!!!! ;)

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Kelly March 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

This looks incredible and something I can’t wait to try!! So festive!

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Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up March 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

How much more Irish can you get?? I read whiskey soaked and I almost didn’t care what it was. :-) And the whiskey raisin sauce? How much better can this get!

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Cookie and Kate March 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I have mixed feelings about raisins, but whiskey-soaked raisins? All for those! I’m not sure I’ve ever had Irish soda bread—traditional or not—but I might have to give it a try this weekend before the St. Patricks Day parade.

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Adrianna March 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

I’m actually sort of a raisin-hater myself, but the whiskey makes them pretty awesome.

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Heather March 15, 2013 at 6:09 am

Having people over for an impromptu st. Patty’s day celebration. Found your recipe. I didn’t have any Irish whiskey, hoping that bourbon will do in a pinch.

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Adrianna March 15, 2013 at 8:44 am

Oh it totally will. It’s a pretty subtle flavor to begin with so the bourbon will definitely work.

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Lindsey March 15, 2013 at 6:32 am

dope. i’m so into the idea of drunk raisins. i just made soda bread the other day, but didn’t see your recipe until now…next time, for sure.

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sandra March 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I like the added whiskey in the mix. Nice touch.

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Adrianna March 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm

YES! Smart move.

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Christina @ It's a Keeper March 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I cannot wait to try this! The whiskey soaked raisins sound amazing! This sounds perfect for the cold snowy day we have today!

Thanks for sharing!

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Tara March 17, 2013 at 5:19 am

Will the alcohol cook out or do I need to make a non-whiskey soaked raisin version for my little guy?

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Adrianna March 17, 2013 at 9:12 am

Hmm…that’s a good question. If the alcohol was in the bread, I’d say go for it but the raisins are soaked in the stuff so I say just skip that step.

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Melissa // The Faumxartha March 17, 2013 at 8:27 am

My new go-to soda bread recipe. So good, so good!

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Adrianna March 17, 2013 at 9:11 am

Weeeeee!!!

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Tara March 18, 2013 at 8:52 pm

It really was perfect! I’ve made another soda bread recipe for YEARS. No more! Yours is it! It was so moist I couldn’t believe it. A day later, even a few pieces not covered stayed moist…wow! And the box grater butter technique? Brilliant!

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Tara March 17, 2013 at 11:10 am

I couldn’t resist – I made it with them anyway…I’ll make a second without :)

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Mike March 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I’ve made a version of this bread for a few years now. I drain the whiskey from the raisins and heat it with a 2 TBSP of sugar cool and mix with some unsalted butter. The whiskey butter is awesome!

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Tara Gutman March 16, 2014 at 8:23 pm

This was awesome. I used the leftover bourbon (no Irish whiskey) from the raisins along with some brown sugar and a whole stick of butter to make bourbon brown sugar butter. It was easy and tasted incredible on the bread. I just whisked it all,together well and refrigerated in a ramekin. Killer.

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Tara Gutman March 16, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Ha…I see my comments from last year. My little guy is now almost 3. He and his little brother enjoyed it again this year…but no bourbon butter for their pieces!

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