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Irish Soda Bread With Raisins (Spotted Dog)

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A lovely buttermilk bread dotted with raisins.

This Irish soda bread, or spotted dog, recipe makes a perfectly crusty, just-sweet-enough loaf of buttermilk soda bread, loaded with golden raisins. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or a simple cup of tea year ’round. Get the recipe.

irish soda bread loaf

Authentic Irish Soda Bread With Raisins Recipe: Spotted Dog

Most people make an Irish soda bread with raisins recipe around St. Patrick’s Day. But in truth, spotted dog should be baked all year ’round. Soda bread does not use yeast. Its leavening comes from baking soda and buttermilk, resulting in a crusty, tender risen loaf that is still satisfyingly dense, yet not at all heavy. This Irish soda bread is my absolute favorite.

Irish soda bread spotted dog dough round on marble

This Irish soda bread recipe is just this side of sweet from raisins and just a touch of sugar. It’s not so sweet that it can be mistaken for a gigantic scone, but not so plain that it seems like normal bread. The crust is hearty and thick, but the bread inside tastes tender and light with a good amount of raisins for extra flavor and interest. Enjoy it with butter, jam, and a strong cup of Irish tea.

dough with slices to let the fairies out

Irish Soda Bread With Raisins: Baking Notes

  • Be sure to soak the golden raisins (the “dog spots”) in warm water for 10 or 15 minutes before using them in the dough. Dried fruit will always seek rehydration, so better to soften them with water than have them pull moisture from the dough as it bakes and make the bread taste dry.
  • Do not overwork the dough. It should still be shaggy and lumpy when you turn it out from the bowl. Gather and press it into a ball; don’t knead it into one. If the dough is a tight ball, you overworked it.
  • Be sure to let the fairies out! Yes, this is an actual thing you have to do. After you have formed the ball of dough, slice lines across, then across again to form a deep “x.”

Soda bread will keep for a couple of days, but tastes best fresh on the first day, preferably warm out of the oven. Let it cool a bit before you slice and slather it with good Irish butter.

You will also enjoy: High-Rise Buttermilk Biscuits and Irish Brown Bread

spotted dog soda bread

Do you make Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day? What St. Patrick’s Day food traditions do you enjoy? Share in the comments.

spotted dog recipe for irish soda bread

Irish Soda Bread (Spotted Dog)

A crusty buttermilk Irish soda bread recipe with the perfect hint of sweetness, generously spotted with raisins.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Course: bread, Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Irish
Keywords:: baking, easy, irish, irish soda bread, soda bread, soda bread recipe, spotted dog recipe, St Patricks Day
Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup golden raisins or sultanas
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk, plus more to brush the top of the soda bread
  • 1 egg
  • Demerara sugar to top the bread (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and lightly grease a half-sheet pan.
  • In a small mixing bowl, pour warm water over the raisins. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes while you mix the dough, then drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir well with a whisk to combine the ingredients and aerate them.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.
  • Using your fingers, cut the butter into the dry goods bowl until the butter is the size of small peas.
  • Create a well in the center of the dry goods. Add the raisins and the egg and buttermilk mixture to the center. Using your fingers, draw the flour into the center and mix the dough together. Be sure to get the flour on the sides and bottom and mix it well, but do not overmix. The dough should look mostly sticky and combined, but shaggy and in clumps.
  • Sprinkle a little flour on your hands and the top of the dough, then turn the dough out onto the sheet pan. Shape it into a domed mound. You want the shape to be rounded more than flattened.
    PRO TIP: Hand sticky and full of dough? The best way to remove it is to put a generous amount of flour on your hands and rub them together. Then wash.
  • With a sharp knife, let the fairies out by cutting a deep cross into the dough. Brush the top with a bit of buttermilk. Sprinkle a generous spoonful of demerara sugar on top, if you like.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F, then lower the temperature to 400°F and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the bottom sounds very hollow when tapped, and everything is a lovely golden brown. Serve warm.

Notes

This Irish soda bread, or spotted dog, is best eaten on the day you bake it (preferably warm from the oven), but will freeze well if you'd like to make it in advance.

22 comments

  • Fantastic recipe! Do you think instead of a soda bread it could make individual scones?

    • Unpeeled

      I think little individual sized soda bread is a great idea! I think it would work great; you’ll just have to keep an eye on the shorter baking time.

  • 5 stars
    Moist inside with a good, crusty exterior. This was not too sweet; so you can add sugar on top before baking if you want more sweetness. Ate this warm right from the oven 🙂

  • Jacqueline

    Do you think I could use Gluten Free 1:1 flour. I’m thinking of trying it. Looks so good!

    • Unpeeled

      Good question. I am always a little nervous to use gluten-free flour on bread-type recipes; I like it best for cakes. That said, I do think that you can get a good soda bread from gluten-free flour. My preferred brands are King Arthur and Cup 4 Cup.

  • Brieana Tascione

    Love this recipe Lisa! I made it for a neighborhood St Paddys party, but then made it again just a few days later because it was soo good! Everyone at the party loved it. The crust is really nice and the bread has great texture- not dry like some soda breads. Thank you!

    • Unpeeled

      Yay!!! I am so glad you liked it. I love how crusty it is, too. Thanks for the note!

  • 5 stars
    So delicious, we all enjoyed it so much especially with the yummy Irish butter.
    Thx for another wonderful recipe

  • 5 stars
    Good morning Lisa!

    I haven’t commented or questioned for a while-all tge weather we’ve been getting has me tending to our horses,and taking care of our ranch (we live in the San Jauquin Valley).

    I’m 100% Irish ??,and decided this month I’ll be baking & cooking all things Irish (uhh…I will at least try-lol).

    I’ve got some questions about this recipe: I see it says to use golden raisins,but the pictures look as though it was made w “regular “ -the usual brown Sun Maid raisins (btw a very good friend of mine,his mother was the inspiration for the original “maiden” that is on all the boxes of Sun Maid).

    Secondly, I have on hand “Lily White Flour” in our pantry (I use it for the biscuit recipe because I read that’s the flour to be using for fluffy biscuits. Between your recipe & Jenn’s and all the guidance you both provide,and that particular flour,I’ve become a pretty good biscuit baker ! Would Lily White be worth using here? I also have King Arthur & Gold Medal…

    Hope everything is going well. I know I haven’t commented for a while as I mentioned above,but please know I’m still baking ,cooking & reading your emails & looking forward to them!

    From one of your fans ……

    Thanks!

    Lisa

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Lisa! Good to hear from you. In answer to your questions, I actually did use golden raisins, but it doesn’t look like it because the outer raisins kinda got “toasty” in the baking process, darkening significantly. You can certainly use golden or purple raisins, though!

      As for flour, White Lily is lovely! I bet it would make a very tender and delicious soda bread. I say go for it!

      • MarieJ. Racaniello

        4 stars
        I found the recipe to be lacking in any sweetness at all. The 3 tablespoons of sugar is underwhelming. I would up it next time close to 1/2 cup sugar.

        Marie

        • Unpeeled

          Thanks for the comment, Marie. Yes, this is not a very sweet soda bread recipe, but I think adjusting it to your tastes is a great idea.

  • FrankieR.

    5 stars
    Loved this and will use this recipe from now on. I should have made it a little rounder but it was crusty and so good. Thanks!!!

  • Lisa I loved the soda bread made it for some friends and they loved it too .. thanks for great tips too esp about the fairies …

    • Unpeeled

      Yea!! So glad you enjoyed making (and eating) this. I love the fairies part of the recipe, too 🙂

  • Sarah Currie

    Re St. Patrick’s Day food: we make soda bread, homemade corned beef, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, carrots, homemade Irish cream, Bill Clarke’s shamrock shake cake. Fun holiday. Thank you for this recipe and for your newsletters. I need frequent inspiration for menu planning.

    • Unpeeled

      This all sounds so delicious! Have to look up that wonderful sheet cake recipe. Thanks for writing.

  • Eileen McG.

    5 stars
    The crust on this is excellent and I loved the flavor. Ate it hot with some Irish butter this afternoon and it made my day 🙂

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