When life gives you golden raisins make them into bread—isn’t that how that “famous” saying goes? Or perhaps that was something to do with lemons, which in this case you can also add to bread! Needless to say, those two ingredients are the stars in my newest recipe for Golden Raisin Bread.
While I did not start with the intention to make this exact recipe, it just evolved on its own, and turned out to be what I now consider as one of my top ten recipes of all time. And yes, I realize that is a huge statement!
When I headed into my kitchen last week I began testing an Irish Soda Bread recipe, in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day. I spent almost two days reading through recipes from my library of cookbooks, and scouring the internet for articles and reviews of recipes that seemed noteworthy. I wanted to make sure my recipe stayed true to the original roots of Irish Soda Bread, at which point I stumbled upon the official web site for The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Breads. I found it to be absolutely fascinating!
As I read through the history of this iconic bread, I learned that traditional Irish Soda Bread has just four ingredients: Buttermilk, flour, salt, and baking soda. Any deviation from that simple formula would not only make it not authentic, but it would also change the flavor, texture, and appearance. Instead of trying to “re-create” an historic tradition, I decided to take the base ingredients, add other flavorings, and try to create something new and different, but grounded in the theme of an Irish Soda Bread.
After scrumptious taste-testing and almost eight loaves of bread later, my Golden Raisin Bread was finished! I transformed the classic recipe with additions like lemon zest, brown sugar, and golden raisins—a simple bread loaf became something perfect to serve at breakfast (toasted with raspberry preserves), at teatime (accompanied by clotted cream), or even as part of a bread basket with lunch or dinner (salted butter, anyone?!).
The texture is somewhere between a biscuit and a scone, the lemon zest adds a lovely brightness, and the golden raisins add both sweetness and a fabulous texture. The entire recipe is prepared using a big bowl and rubber spatula—no electric mixer, no rising, no fuss. All of the ingredients are readily found at your local grocery store, and from start to finish takes less than 60 minutes—making it the perfect bread to bake on a whim!
Golden Raisin Bread
Flour – 4 cups, all-purpose, plus 2 tablespoon
Baking Soda – 2 teaspoons
Cream of Tartar – ½ teaspoon
Fine Sea Salt – 2 teaspoons
Dark Brown Sugar – 4 tablespoons
Buttermilk – 2 cups, cold
Eggs – 1 extra-large, plus 1 extra-large yolk, at room temperature
Lemon Zest – 2 teaspoons
Golden Raisins – 2 cups
Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together 4 cups of flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and raisins. Toss to coat. Set aside.
In another small bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and lemon zest. Lightly beat to break up the yolks.
Next, add the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold everything together until it is just combine.
Add the raisins and fold them into the dough.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times until it forms a round loaf, roughly 9-inches around by 3-inches high.
Place the loaf onto the prepared sheet pan. Using a serrated knife, cut an “X” into the top of the loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the melted butter.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown. The loaf will have a hollow sound when you tap the top.
Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Serve either warm or at room temperature.