Nellie O'Leary's Irish Soda Bread

Nellie O'Leary's Irish Soda Bread

This month’s recipe comes from Judy O’Leary Anderson of Syracuse, New York whose mother Nellie T. O’Donoughue O’Leary came through Ellis Island in 1920 from the village of Rathmore County, Kerry, Ireland.

Every St. Patrick's Day, after the parade, the family would have about thirty people in their home for a ham and corned beef and cabbage dinner with Irish Soda bread and tea. Nellie was the spearhead in welcoming new "greenhorns" and getting together the members and friends of her Irish family. She would organize picnics and parties so that they would have a sense of belonging in their new country.

Nellie O’Leary’s Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick melted butter
1 1/2 cups raisins
2 tbsp. caraway seeds
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 tsp. baking soda


  1. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar; add melted butter and mix.

  2. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.

  3. Combine buttermilk, egg, and baking soda.

  4. Make a well in center of the batter.

  5. Pour liquid ingredients and stir into flour mixture.

  6. Place in large iron frying pan, well-buttered.

  7. Use a knife to make a cross on the top.

  8. Moisten with melted butter.

  9. Bake in a 375° oven for an hour, or until golden brown and shrinks from the side of the pan.



For more great recipes from around the world, purchase your copy of The Ellis Island Immigrant Cookbook.

The cookbook is a 268-page spiral-bound book containing recipes from thirty-five countries. The recipes are introduced with family memories. The book also contains a History of Ellis Island, Chronology, Immigrant Food Memories.

Visit our shop