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Try Grandma Boyce’s family recipe for soda bread this holiday

Irish soda bread. (Matthew Mead/AP)
Irish soda bread. (Matthew Mead/AP)

When NPR asked listeners across the country to share their family holiday recipes, Maureen O’Reilly from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, answered the call to share her husband’s grandmother’s recipe for soda bread.

O’Reilly says she watched Grandma Boyce make this bread “countless times” before her husband urged her to get the recipe.

“She emigrated from Ireland in the early 20th century and became a professional cook in New York City, working in the homes of wealthy Irish families,” says O’Reilly.

Grandma Boyce’s Irish soda bread


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine in a large bowl:
    • 4 cups soft wheat flour
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 2 heaping tsp caraway seeds
    • 1 cup raisins (1/2 golden, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes)
  3. Crumble in 1/2 cup unsalted butter with your fingers until the mixture is fragrant with butter, caraway and flour, and pieces of butter are pea-sized or larger.
  4. In second bowl, mix together:
    • 1 1/3 cups whole buttermilk
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp baking soda
  5. Beat until foamy. Add to dry ingredients and combine to make a stiff dough, stopping just when flour disappears.
  6. Grease a 9 inch round pan. [Glass works well.]
  7. Place dough in the pan and lightly shape into a dome. Sprinkle liberally with flour. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross 1/2 inch deep into the top.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 1 hour.
  9. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
  10. Serve in thick slices with Irish butter and scalding hot tea.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.