Irish Tea Cake Recipe

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Golden, warm Irish Tea Cake is an easy dessert to serve with your St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage. It’s also a homey, delicious Irish baking recipe that’s also perfect any time of year.

Irish tea cake recipe served in a round pan

What is Irish Tea Cake?

Irish Tea Cake is not the same thing as making Irish Soda Bread then adding a handful of raisins. I have to say this because there are some purists out there who have conniption fits about Irish Soda Bread recipes involving more than four ingredients.

It’s not Irish Soda Bread

They’re not altogether wrong, mind you. Traditional Irish Soda Bread uses only flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. That’s it. No sugar, no butter, and certainly no raisins. As explained by the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (yes, there is such a thing), anything else is “tea cake.”

And so, this recipe is for Irish Tea Cake and not Irish Soda Bread with Raisins, though you’re welcome to call it whatever you like. One thing you’re bound to call it is your new favorite Irish baked goods for St. Patrick’s Day, because it’s so simple to make and delicious with a hot cup of tea.

Irish Tea Cake Recipe Steps

Flour in a bowl

Rub Cold Butter into Dry Ingredients

To make Irish Tea Cake, combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Next, add the cubes of very cold butter and, using your fingertips, rub them into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. This step leads to a “shorter” bread which minimizes the breakdown of gluten, so you wind up with a more tender result.

You might need to fish around in there a few times to ensure there are no more large chunks of butter. Shaking the bowl a bit also helps.

A well made in the middle of a bowl of flour with milked poured into it

Pour Buttermilk into the Well

Once the butter is completely rubbed in, make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Quickly pour the buttermilk into the center of this well and stir until the ingredients are just combined. Don’t use beaters or a stand mixer or you’ll over-stir and end up with a tough cake at the end.

Raisins stirred into a bowl of batter with a wooden spoon

Add Raisins and Bake

Sprinkle the raisins in during the final few strokes and stir just until they’re mixed into the batter. Doesn’t it look like chocolate chip cookie dough? It has about the same consistency, too, so don’t expect it to flow as a cake batter would.

Unbaked Irish Tea Cake in a straight-sided cake pan

Spoon the dough into a well-greased cake pan, pushing it to the edges with your spoon then sprinkle on the remaining sugar. Again, try not to overhandle the dough or it’ll get tough. Since this is a rustic-style Irish baking recipe, you want it to have a craggy top to catch butter when you serve it. Oh, man, it is so good with butter!

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Bake for roughly 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It’ll develop a gorgeous golden brown top while it cooks and your kitchen will smell amazing!

A platter of Irish Tea Cake with one slice on a small serving plate next to a cup of tea

Let it Cool a Bit After Baking

Once it’s ready, remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack. I let it cool for another 15 minutes longer while I heated the kettle to make tea. After that, we couldn’t wait one more minute to dig in.

Storing Irish Tea Cake

Irish Tea Cake keeps well up to 3 days if stored in an air-tight container at room temperature. If you want to freeze this Irish Tea Cake, let it fully cool and wrap it well in cling wrap followed by two layers of aluminum foil. Defrost fully before serving.

Enjoy!

Irish Tea Cake

Inspired by Irish Soda Bread, this sweeter version is studded throughout with raisins and sprinkled with sugar. It’s delicious on its own or slathered with good Irish butter.
Print Recipe
Irish Tea Cake - Bake until a lovely golden brown
Prep Time:5 mins
Cook Time:40 mins
Cooling Time:15 mins
Total Time:1 hr

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Cake Pan

Ingredients

Cooking spray

  • 2 cups white all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar divided
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter cubed and chilled
  • 1 cup buttermilk cold
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C and position a rack in the center of the oven. Grease an 8-inch cake pan well.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, and all of the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add butter to the bowl and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Quickly pour the cold buttermilk into the well and stir just to combine. Add in raisins during the final few strokes.
  • Spoon the dough into the prepared cake pan and use the spoon to bring it to the sides. Do not flatten or smooth the top of the dough — you want it to remain craggy. Sprinkle the dough with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  • Bake at 375°F / 190°C for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Notes

Storage: Keeps well up to 3 days if stored in an air-tight container at room temperature. If you want to freeze Irish Tea Cake, let it fully cool and wrap it well in cling wrap followed by two layers of aluminum foil. Defrost on the counter before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 469mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 181IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 2mg
Servings: 8 slices
Calories: 253kcal
Author: Katie Berry

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Recipe Rating




13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Totally trying this! Timing is perfect. I am totally on an Irish Breakfast tea kick, AND I have fresh buttermilk in my fridge right now. Thanks for the recipe, for your hilarious newsletter yesterday (3/6/17), and for your amazing blog. The quality of your content, and your personality, humor, and professionalism bring me back every week. I’m a fan, Katie B!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Erin!

  2. Angela Butera says:

    5 stars
    This is delicious! It is just sweet enough and has a nice dense, but not heavy, texture! I had to add a few extra splashes of buttermilk to get my dough/batter to come together. It was easy to make and I will make it again!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  3. Can I add pecans or walnuts along with raisin s?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I don’t see why not! They sound like yummy additions. Maybe just a handful, though, so you don’t need to adjust the other ingredients.

  4. Can I use any dried fruit?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I haven’t tried a lot of different dried fruits but can’t think of why you couldn’t try some. Let me know which ones work out for you!

  5. Lynda Zipparo says:

    5 stars
    I just made this and it is delicious!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you liked it, Lynda!

  6. Debbie Crowley says:

    Thanks for the recipe. Coniption fit! Ha ha. Happens to be one of my own personal sayings. Delighted you had the metric conversion. Waterford, Ireland 🇮🇪

  7. 5 stars
    Love this! Just had it for tea..with butter and marmalade. Absolutely perfect. So quick and easy to make, followed directions as written.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you liked it, Peggy. It’s a favorite here, too. 🙂