You can make the best Irish soda bread you've ever eaten in just 30 minutes with ingredients you already have in your kitchen.

For years I've been avoiding Irish soda bread like the black plague. All of my experiences with the traditional St. Patrick's Day treat have been either too dry and crumbly or just tasteless and bland.

Soda bread emerged as a popular Irish staple out of necessity. The peasant class came up with a recipe for the bread using cheap and easily available ingredients. The "quick bread" only takes a few minutes to put together and just 30 minutes to bake. The result is  a moist, tasty bread. Too often, however, the recipe isn't properly followed. Too much baking soda or not enough liquid can create something that's more suited as a doorstop than a loaf of bread.

Chef Kristin Egan from the Culinary Institute of America was kind enough to show us an example of a properly baked Irish soda bread.

Now that you know how it's supposed to taste, why not try making Irish soda bread for yourself? The following recipe was provided by the CIA from their cookbook "Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America" (John Wiley & Sons, 2004)

Irish Soda Bread
Makes 2 loaves

Cornmeal for dusting
4 cups cake flour plus extra for dusting
1⁄3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1⁄4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp cold whole or low-fat milk
3 Tbsp dark raisins
1 Tbsp caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Scatter a baking sheet with cornmeal.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the milk, raisins, and caraway seeds. Mix the dough until it forms a shaggy mass. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 20 seconds.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball, pressing the seams together on the bottom. Dust the rounds with flour and lightly score a cross into the top of each with a sharp knife. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the loaves until they are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.