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Irish Soda Bread Recipe (Plus St. Patrick's Day Joke)

Cooking and baking is a favorite pastime for me. Experimenting with ethnic recipes allows me to experience flavors that enrich my palate.

Irish soda bread is perfect for St. Patty's Day

Irish soda bread is perfect for St. Patty's Day

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

In Ireland, this classic bread is served the day it's made with plenty of butter. To cut your calories down considerably, top it off with spreadable fruit—or simply toast and enjoy!

Preparation and Baking Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

45 min

1 hour 5 min

10 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, currants, caraway seeds, lemon zest, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and honey. Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture; stir until the flour is just moistened (do not overmix).
  4. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour; turn out the dough. Flour your hands and knead the dough lightly 7 times. Form into a 7" round loaf; place on the baking sheet.
  5. With a sharp knife or single edge razor blade, slash a cross on the top. Sprinkle with the sugar.
  6. Bake on the upper shelf in the oven until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Irish Joke: Paddy Was a Drinkin' Man, Ya Know...

At the end of every week, he would take half of his paycheck and go down to the local pub and have a pint . . . or two or three with all his drinkin' pals.

Paddy’s dear beloved wife, Katherine, was a very patient woman and although she never said a word to her Paddy, she didn't care for him spending so much time at the pub drinkin' away his paycheck every week.

Paddy could see that Katherine was not pleased with him, and the last thing he ever wanted to do was to make his dear Katherine upset with him. So with good intention in his heart, he announced one day that he was gonna “give up the drink!”

Paddy came home from work one Friday with his paycheck in hand as he had been doing for the past two months and once again he happily gave it to his dear Katherine. She kissed him on the cheek and said, “Paddy, my love, you have been such a good and faithful husband. You've been coming home every night, handin' me your paycheck at the end of every week and not even thinking about the drink! Tonight I have a surprise for thee! Tonight, I am gonna make your favorite meal, the escargot!”

Katherine continued, “But I need ya to go down to the corner market and get me a bag of snails.”

Paddy was so happy! Off he went with a skip in his step whistling an Irish ditty.
Paddy arrived at the corner market and went inside to retrieve his bag of treasures for his much-anticipated meal later that evening.”

From behind the counter an excited voice was heard, “Paddy me boy, how are ya? I haven’t seen ya since two months of a full moon! Where have ya been?” Paddy spotted his favorite drinkin' pal Lucas smiling brilliantly from behind the register. “Oh, well I've given up the drink ya know, for my dear wife Katherine and tonight's she's makin' me favorite meal, the escargot!"

“Well, that’s a noble thing to do Paddy, especially for the little woman.” How about ya let me take ya next door for a wee pint to celebrate you giv’n up the drink for your dear wife Katherine?”, Lucas said. Paddy replied, “Oh, I better not. I promised her I would pick up the snails and come right home.”

Needling Paddy a little more Lucas said enticingly, “ Awww, just one wee pint for old time sake and I’ll make sure you get yourself and your snails home in time for your dear wife Katherine to make your favorite meal.”

Paddy willingly accepted the offer and off they went next door to the pub. Lucas ordered up a round of drinks for himself and Paddy. Just as Paddy was swallowing his last gulp, in walks Sean and Patrick who were so excited to see their old drinkin' pal. Before he knew it, Paddy was drinking his third pint while the boys were ordering up the fourth.

Four hours passed by quickly and Paddy just happened to look at his watch and noticed it was 11 pm!

“Ah, dear Lord!, Paddy exclaimed, “My dear wife Katherine is gonna have me head on a platter!”

Paddy picked up his bag of snails and bid good night to his pals.

Walking from one side of the road to the other and singing the same Irish ditty as before only with an apparent slur, Paddy finally reaches home and approaches the white picket fence that welcomes visitors. Paddy flings open the gate and proceeds to walk through tripping over the first flagstone and falling headfirst to the ground. The bag of treasures ripped open and snails went flying all over the ground.

Paddy slowly picked himself up, half dusted himself off and proceeded to pick up the snails, when the door flew open wide. There in the doorway was Paddy’s dear beloved wife Katherine with her hands on her hips, foot tapping wildly and the light shining brightly behind her as if the fire from a dragon was emitting from every pore of this stoutly woman. “PADDY O’HARA! Do ya have any idea what time 'tis?

Paddy as drunk as he was, managed to stand himself up. With all the composure of a drunken sailor and the courage of a sober one, Paddy looked at his wife and said, “I shurtantly do! Ish nearly eleven dirty!” and without pause, looked down at the snails and said, “C’mon boys, we're almost home!”

More About St. Patrick's Day