Joanne Chang’s Irish Soda Bread

Kristin Teig

Make your St. Patrick’s Day (and the whole weekend, while you’re at it) a whole lot more delicious with this quick bread recipe from Flour Bakery + Cafe‘s Joanne Chang. The James Beard Award-winning pastry chef and cookbook author’s version of Irish Soda Bread is a richer, tender-yet-crumbly twist on the traditional, which is often on the drier side. It still pairs perfectly with a bit of butter and nice cup of tea so have at it and have a toasty and tasty St. Patrick’s Day.


Yields: 1 large loaf (cut in 8 wedges)


  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 cups/280 grams rye flour
  • 1/3 cup/70 grams sugar
  • 1/3 cup/50 grams currants
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup/1 stick/115 grams unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/3 cup/80 grams buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup/80 grams creme fraiche
  • 1 large egg (about 50 grams)
  • 1 large egg yolk (about 20 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon softened butter for finishing


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment or (butter it lightly) and set aside.
  2. Place the caraway seeds on a cutting board and sprinkle a few drops of water on them to keep them from sliding around. Use a chef’s knife to rough chop the caraway a bit so that it is not all whole seeds. Place the seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the rye flour, sugar, currants, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl and mix on low speed for a few seconds until combined. Cut the butter into 8 to 10 pieces and add it to the flour mixture; paddle for 20 to 30 seconds on low speed until the butter is somewhat broken down but there are still pieces about the size of a grape.
  3. Whisk together the buttermilk, crème fraiche, and whole egg in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed. With the mixer running on low speed, pour in the buttermilk mixture into the flour-butter mixture and paddle for another 10 to 15 seconds until the dough just comes together. There will probably still be a little loose flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Gather and lift the dough with your hands and turn it over in the bowl so that it starts to pick up the loose flour at the bottom. Turn the dough over several times until all loose flour is mixed in.
  5. Dump the dough out onto a baking sheet and pat it into an 8-inch circle, about 1-inch thick. Beat the egg yolk lightly with a fork and brush it evenly over the entire top of the dough with a pastry brush. Cut the dough into eight wedges as you would cut a pizza. (At this point the soda bread can be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to a week. Add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time and proceed as directed.)
  6. Bake in the 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the entire circle of soda bread is golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately smear the butter evenly over the entire top surface. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes, cut into pre-scored wedges, and serve.
  7. The soda bread is best enjoyed the same day you bake it, but it can be stored in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days. If you keep it for longer than 1 day, refresh it in a 300°F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or you can freeze it, wrapped tightly in plastic, for up to 1 week and reheat it in a 300°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

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