Irish soda bread is an iconic St. Patrick’s Day recipe, and this sweet version is perfect for cooking with kids: it’s simple, quick, and delicious!
St. Patrick’s Day is kind of a random holiday to celebrate in the United States. Still, I’m all for a simple and fun day of celebration when we’re coming off a long winter and could really use a little pick-me-up. So, bring on the green food and the Celtic music; we’re celebrating St. Patty’s around here!
We don’t do anything too elaborate for St. Patrick’s Day, but I like to use to use it as a way to acknowledge that there are other countries in the world. My kids have never been outside the United States, but until they do, we can at least learn about other countries by reading books, eating food and listening to their music.
I want my kids to celebrate the beautiful diversity of the world around us…and what’s a celebration without FOOD?!
This Irish soda bread is perfect for baking with kids. It’s a handful of basic ingredients. It’s a yeast-less bread, so you don’t have to wait for it to rise (i.e. – it’s good for short attention spans). Plus the maybe-not-completely-authentic-but-definitely-delicious addition of Craisins and orange zest make this a sweet treat that kids will be proud to make and happy to gobble up.
Variations to consider
You can always keep things basic and make this bread without the Craisins and orange. Just omit them. No other changes necessary.
But, if you’re feeling inventive, why not try some other add-ins? Here are some ideas:
Dried Fruit & Nut: You could substitute just about any other kind of dried fruit for the Craisins: raisins, apricots, currants, cherries, etc. Add in some chopped walnuts or pecans for an extra crunch.
Cheese & Herb: Not in a sweet mood? Go savory! Try kneading in some shredded cheddar cheese and rosemary…or bacon. You can never go wrong with bacon.
Cinnamon & Raisin: This classic combo would make a perfect breakfast bread.
Okay, enough chit-chat. Let’s get cooking!
- 4 cup flour + 1 T flour (divided)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 Tablespoons cold butter, unsalted
- 1 3/4 C buttermilk (see note)
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- 1 cup Craisins (or other dried fruit)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- Cut butter into small pieces and add to flour mixture and stir to combine. Use a pastry blender or two knives to break it up until you have coarse crumbs.
- In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, and orange zest. Whisk together for just a few seconds to break up the egg and combine the ingredients.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix gently. The less you mix this dough the more tender it will be after it's baked. Toss the Craisins (or other dried fruit) with 1 Tablespoon flour, add to dough, and fold in gently.
- Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead it a few times, just enough to pull it together into a roundish shape.
- Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until loaf is golden brown and test skewer comes out clean. Loaf should sound hollow when tapped. If needed, cover loosely with foil toward the end to prevent over-browning.
- When done, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve plain or with a smear of butter and honey. To store, wrap in a clean dish towel and store at room temperature for 3-5 days.
Note: If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own easily! Just add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk (so for this recipe, add about 2 tablespoons) and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. That's it!
Want more fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with kids? Try these activities:
- The Sneaky Leprechaun: a St. Patrick’s Day game for preschoolers
- Leprechaun Gold Hunt: a St. Patrick’s Day alphabet sensory bin
- Rainbow Scavenger Hunt: a colors activity