There must be hundreds of different recipes for Irish Soda Bread, and I'm sure each one of them is delicious, and each one of them has a family history.
There are purists, however, who say that to be an authentic traditional Irish Soda Bread it should consist of no more than flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk or buttermilk. That is how it was made for the most part generations ago in Ireland. There is even a web site called the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread owned by an Ed O'Dwyer, who shudders to think of someone adding ingredients like eggs, raisins or sugar, to the bread and then calling it "Traditional Irish Soda Bread".
His soda bread recipe can be found here, among some other Irish bread recipes.
None-the-less, this is the recipe I've been making for years and years, and which my family enjoys the most. It uses baking powder as the leavening agent, instead of baking soda, and calls for some sugar, and yes, an egg and raisins!
Maybe it should be called "Irish Powder Cake"?
Whatever it's called, it's easy to make, and tastes so good!
Irish Soda Bread
Makes one large Loaf ~ preheat oven 350 degrees
4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk*
Combine all ingredients slowly, starting with the dry, then beat the egg and add, then stir in buttermilk until the flour is wet and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Dough will be sticky. Scrape onto a floured board and with floured hands knead lightly. Form into a ball and place on a lightly oiled cast iron skillet or pan. Cut a cross on top with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until golden brown; it should sound hollow when tapped, and you can also check to see if it is done by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.
Transfer bread to a rack to let cool briefly. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Delicious with butter and jam!
*If you can not find buttermilk make sour milk by putting 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup and add enough milk to make one full cup. Let this sit and curdle for a couple of minutes before using it.
An interesting side thought -- folklore says caraway seeds aid digestion and gas pain. See some information about that here.
I would guess that is a good remedy to accompany a meal of corned beef and cabbage!