When I was a kid, my parents hosted children from Ireland through Project Children, an organization that gave kids from troubled areas in Ireland (north and south) a 6-week adventure in the United States. My parents participated in this program for many years. Each summer vacation welcomed a new friendly face from aboard with smiling Irish eyes. I made lots of pen pals, and I think about my old Irish friends often.

One of the ways we shared our cultures was through food. While my family entertained the girls we hosted with NJ boardwalk cuisine – hot dogs, French fries, sausage and peppers, brats, and soft-serve cones – we acquired authentic Irish recipes that were delish. My grandmother loved having the girls over. She was Scottish and Irish. And a damned good cook. She made the girls her family’s Irish Soda Bread recipe, which was well-received and deemed authentic.

For every Project Children event or St. Patrick’s Day party, we always made my grandmother’s Irish Soda Bread. It’s a hit and is guaranteed to be devoured. 

So, here it is. My grandmother’s Leprechaun-approved Irish Soda Bread recipe. 


2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
3 Tablespoons shortening or margarine
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins, dark or golden, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3 tablespoons of sugar.
  3. Add shortening and cut into flour with two knives or a pastry blender until shortening is in fine pieces.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour, pour in the buttermilk and add raisins. Mix lightly.
  5. Turn in a lightly floured board and knead gently a few times. Shape into a 5-inch thick round loaf and place in prepared pan.
  6. Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut dough crosswise into quarters, about 1/3 of the way through. Brush top surface with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar mixed with the cinnamon.
  7. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with butter or margarine.