By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Mar 11, 2006 at 5:12 AM

{image1} Dee Marczewski knows soda bread.

Her recipe has been an Irish Fest Red Star Yeast baking contest favorite for more than a decade. In fact, in 2002, Marczewski swept nearly all of the festival's baking categories, earning Best in Show honors and first-place recognition in four out of six contests.

"I'm only a little bit Irish, but I grew up smelling things baking at home and that's what I wanted for my children," says Marczewski, who has won almost 70 ribbons for baking in Wisconsin festivals over the years.

In early Ireland, it was common to make bread using baking soda instead of yeast. Traditionally, Irish bread was "baked" in a pot, which was placed over the fire in the hearth.

Marczewski's soda bread was adapted from a friend's recipe. She says her secrets are to handle the dough as little as possible and to make the bread "picture perfect" by carefully shaping and glazing the final product.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, Marczewski says she's delighted to share her soda bread recipe with

For Milwaukee Irish Fest details, call (414) 476-3378 or visit

Milwaukee Irish Fest's Favorite Soda Bread
(With thanks to Dee Marczewski)

4 cups flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 T caraway seeds
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup raisins
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp soda
2 T margarine, melted

Mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Blend shortening and add raisins and caraway seeds. Add soda to buttermilk and egg. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and mix. Knead bread lightly to make a round loaf. Place in greased round pan or dish. Cut an "X" in the top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until golden. Brush with melted butter.