When I visit my parents in New York City, I spend a lot of time at Amy's Bread. One of the reasons that I love it there is that they serve Irish soda bread year round (in both white flour and wheat flour varieties!)
On my most recent visit I asked, out of curiosity, "Uh, so who buys this except me?" (It wasn't near St. Patrick's Day so the seasonal influx of orders wouldn't yet be in play.) The woman behind the counter laughed and said that I was definitely doing my part to move their daily input, and that some people didn't like it because it wasn't that sweet and it "wasn't really a scone."
The truth is that soda bread is one of those dishes that everyone and their mom (and their mom's mom) has the "right" recipe for. Should the crumb be crumbly or soft? Whole wheat flour or white? Serve it in wedges or in slices? How sweet should it be? I like soda bread in all its iterations, but I realized there are two ingredients that I don't want mine without: raisins and caraway.
So this year for St. Patrick's Day, instead of making soda bread, I decided to transfer the flavors of soda bread to a cookie. Shortbread was the obvious base, not only because it's thematically appropriate, but because of the crumbly texture and not-too-sweet flavor. When caraway and raisins are added, the anise flavor of the seeds and the chewy pops of dried grape make the cookies taste pretty identical to regular soda bread. And I've noticed, as cookies, it's an easier sell.
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios