In some parts of Ireland, the first snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses have already appeared, a sure sign that spring and St. Patrick’s Day are almost here! For tea lovers, it’s time to think about a springtime menu that might include recipes for soda bread (make a loaf or muffins) and for applesauce bars that celebrate one of Ireland’s quintessential ingredients---Guinness! You’ll find these and other festive recipes in my cookbook Teatime in Ireland. Order signed copies at




            This recipe produces one of the best Irish soda breads you’ll find. You can make this in a cast iron skillet for a lovely crisp bottom or bake it in two cupcake pans to serve as mini soda breads or muffins.

3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups mixed raisins and sultanas (golden raisins)

3 teaspoons caraway seeds

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Sparkling or sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Softened butter, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch baking pan or two 12-cup muffin pans with nonstick baking spray with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda; stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Make a well in center; stir in eggs, buttermilk and butter. Spoon mixture into prepared pan or cups (fill muffin cups two thirds full); sprinkle top with sparkling or sanding sugar.
  3. Bake cake for 1 hour (muffins for 23 to 25 minutes), or until top is golden and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes; let cool completely. Serve spread with butter.


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