Buttermilk Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Buttermilk Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Today I woke up knowing that I didn’t have to go anywhere, thanks to a lovely little blizzard named Stella. This made me smile.

I also woke up to two Facebook Memories, which made me smile even more. The first memory reminded me that Jon and I got engaged exactly four years ago today. The other one reminded me that I wrote about this same recipe, on a different blog from what seems like a different lifetime, exactly five years ago today. And since my game plan for the day was to bake and write about these adorable little muffins, it seemed like the universe was confirming that my intentions were in exactly the right place.

If you didn’t know, St. Patrick’s Day is on Friday. Now, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that this is basically a made-up holiday...just an excuse to go bar-hopping, drink green beer, and wear t-shirts that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!” even if you’re not Irish at all. All that fun and debauchery aside, my favorite thing about St. Patty’s Day, hands-down, is my Aunty Sue’s beloved Buttermilk Irish Soda Bread. And whether you're Irish (or just pretending to be!) this recipe is one that everyone will love.  

Traditionally, Irish Soda Bread is a dry, crumbly bread made with a mix of whole wheat and white flours, and studded with caraway seeds and currants. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s definitely not an enjoyable thing to eat unless you smother it in a very thick layer of butter. My aunt’s version, on the other hand, is the Soda Bread that old-school Soda Bread wishes it’ll grow up to be. It’s tender and soft, with a fluffy crumb and a perfectly-balanced flavor thanks to loads of sweet raisins, tangy buttermilk, and decadent salted Irish butter. After baking, it gets generously brushed with more butter, which means the top crust of the bread is the absolute best part.

I wanted to make this recipe for one of my cooking classes at work, but I knew that with only an hour for the class, the bread would never bake in time, unless I used a “magic of TV” swap-out loaf. I decided to test the batter out out as muffins, which bake in a fraction of the time, and was thrilled at how well they turned out. Plus, if you make them in muffin format, you end up with way more top crust to enjoy! 

Serve these alongside your corned beef and cabbage dinner this weekend, and people will kiss you no matter what your t-shirt says! 

Buttermilk Irish Soda Bread Muffins
Makes 12 muffins / One 9x5” loaf
Adapted from Aunty Sue’s signature recipe and shared with her permission!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 TB baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ to 2 cups raisins (adjust depending on how much you like raisins!)
1 stick (4 oz) salted Irish butter, melted, plus a bit more for brushing
1 egg
1 ¼ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. 

In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Add raisins to dry ingredients and toss to coat in flour. Add melted butter and stir a few times. Beat egg and buttermilk together in a measuring cup and add to flour mixture, folding gently until all flour has been absorbed. 

Divide batter among lined muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. 

Immediately after removing from oven, brush a bit more melted butter over the top of each muffin. Allow to cool slightly, and serve with more salted Irish butter.

Note: If making a loaf, pour batter into a buttered and floured 9x5” loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown on top. Leftovers are delicious toasted and served with a variety of toppings. 

Happy St. Patty’s Day, everyone!
Cheers! Alex

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