Monday, March 14, 2011

Irish soda bread aka Grandma Fisher's elusive biscuit recipe

     In keeping with my newly discovered Irish heritage, I decided to look into some authentic Irish recipes for St. Patricks's Day, pay a little homage to the ancestors. It is after all a religious celebration, not just the drunken bruhaha it has become in North America. (Not that I'm knocking that tradition either.LOL)

     I always knew I had Irish blood, I just didn't realize most of it came from my mother's side of the family, namely my Grandma Fisher. Her mother, Mrs. Mary Emma Craig Sadler is from a well know Irish family in North Gower (there's even a book about the family). They were famous for their hospitality, something my grandmother definitely passed down. In searching out traditional recipes I came across this one for Irish Soda Bread. I had seen the recipe before but not really paid much attention, not really a bread baker at this point so ..... How I am kicking myself now.

   My Grandmother was famous for her bread, the yeast kind. I liked it, loved the buns but my favourite was her biscuits. They tasted like no other I have ever had and I have spent countless hours looking for and testing hundreds of recipes to try and find hers. Well I think this is it, not a biscuit recipe at all but an adaptation of the soda bread recipe.

     This is a really easy recipe to make, that's why I chose it to test my bread baking skills. Very little kneading, no proofing, no muss, no fuss.

Irish Soda Bread


4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter (1/4 cup + two tablespoons) melted and cooled
1 3/4 cup of buttermilk-see previous post for substitute
2 tablespoons of buttermilk, optional


Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
 Add buttermilk and melted butter, mix well.
Turn out on to floured board and knead for about two or three minutes.
Dust with flour as needed. Mine was really sticky and I ended up using about a half cup of flour to knead the dough.
Shape into two round loaves.
Brush with buttermilk, dust with flour and cut a cross into the tops of the bread.
Place on a parchment lined or floured baking sheet.
Bake for approximately 1 hour or until golden brown.


Add 1/2 cup of raisins while kneading to make raisin bread
Add two teaspoons of carroway seeds for carroway bread

     I scorched the crap out of the bottom of mine while baking. My oven runs hot so I'm not sure if the temperature was too high at 375, I think I'll try at 350 next time. It also baked in about 45 minutes. Singed base aside, much to my surprise, it was delicious and we ate both loaves the day I made it. It is a dense, moist bread with a nice crust but not like yeast bread at all. I'm pretty sure my grandmother rolled the dough out and cut biscuits out of it. It sure tastes the same. If you wanted to try biscuits, roll it out to about 3/4-1 inch thickness, cut your biscuits  and I would start checking the cooking time after about 10 or 15 minutes and it should be perfect.

     I can hardly wait until one of my aunts tests this out for me to see if I have finally found the "one". It feels nice to bring an old recipe home. Enjoy.


  1. Slainte!
    Ha.....don't know if that will keep you busy researching, but if you are a good Irish boy and have your ale in hand, you should know it. LOL.
    I suspected that we had quite a bit of Irish in the blood......glad to have it confirmed that I come by all these freckles, and me thirst for ale (not matter how often I go to church!), honestly.
    I was traveling back to Arnprior from Mom's today and actually thinking of Grandma's Irish Soda Bread. I have a recipe for my bread machine and have been wanting to try it. Guess I will be busy tomorrow!
    For now it's just a beer and shortbread cookies (yes, your..our family recipe). They go surprisingly good together.
    For favourite Irish Proverb in Gaelic:
    An áit a bhuil do chroí is ann a thabharfas do chosa thú.
    (Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.)

  2. I opted for a semi-traditional St Pat's this year and was good, very little beer but good Irish stew for dinner. Got lots of new recipes to try for next year's celebrations and found another family recipe, Grandma's potato pancakes. I'll post it later. Love the Irish proverbs and yes, you get the freckles honestly LOL.


Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoyed your time in the "Kitchen".