TikTok's Favorite Irish Soda Bread Recipe Is Perfect For St. Patrick's Day

It's mid-March and many people may be frantically flipping through web pages to find St. Patrick's Day recipes for one of the holiday's staples: soda bread. Fortunately, soda bread is really simple to make, as 1.9 million viewers of the video uploaded by the TikToker @colleencooking learned. In the video, viewers see dry ingredients thrown together, an egg cracked into the mound, and liquids introduced to make a dough. Suddenly, we cut to the finished bread. That's pretty much how the recipe goes as written by Colleen Kennedy on her website Souffle Bombay. You need flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, butter, raisins, buttermilk, heavy cream, and an egg. 

These aren't hard and fast rules either. When one person commented "Switch chocolate chips for the raisins and I'm in," Colleen wrote back saying "You can, I've done that. Raisins are just better IMO." Another suggested mixing in cranberries and orange zest. There was some disagreement between self-reported Irish commenters about whether this counted as soda bread. However, the consensus was that the final product looked delicious. 

Soda bread is meant to be easy

While the recipe in the TikTok video has apparently won contests, the ease it offers is true for all soda bread, and the quick and simple recipe is part of what made the baked item popular in the first place. As The Society of the Preservation of Soda Bread explains, the Irish adopted the bread as a necessity. The society quotes from a medical journal published in 1850 that shows how central the bread became to Irish families: "During the failure of the potato crop, a large quantity of bicarbonate of soda was employed by the poorer classes in the preparation of bread; the article consequently became scarce, owing to the increased demand, and the price rose accordingly." In short, poverty drove many to find cheap, easy ways to make bread.

As for the question about whether the bread shown in the TikTok video counts as soda bread, Trafalgar reports that "many Irish families add their own extras like raisins, caraway seeds and honey" instead of sticking with a plain, purist loaf. Moreover, bakeries use different grains and include even wilder flavoring like treacle, Guinness, and cream of tartar. It comes down to what one has at hand.