Mrs. Neilan’s Raisin Bread Recipe


Mrs. Neilan’s Raisin Bread

A recipe borrowed from Our Irish Grannies’ Recipes: A Unique Collection of Delightful Recipes from Grannies’ Kitchens All Over Ireland.

I never actually met Mrs. Neilan—as far as I know, she was a neighbour of my granny’s. However, this was one of the first things I baked by myself as a child, and it still always reminds me of my granny—the cinnamon-y aroma, the taste of the plump, juicy raisins and the moist consistency of this cake that just cries for a cup of tea to accompany it. For me, this is what baking is all about—memories.

~ Helen Dalton

N.B. : This recipe is as authentically Irish as they come. You will find measurements in mugs and teacups. And you will not find a temperature setting for your oven. We have added a few notes to help interpret Mrs. Neilan’s intentions. After all, baking should be an adventure, embarked upon with wild abandon!


  • 1 mug raisins (1 cup)
  • 2 mugs flour (2 cups)
  • 1 teacup sugar (2/3 c.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (all spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg


  • Boil the raisins in 1 1/2 cups of water until the liquid is reduced to 1 mug.
  • Pour off the raisin water and let it cool.
  • Put the raisins to dry on newspaper. (This can be done overnight).
  • Roll the dried raisins in the flour and mix with the remaining dry ingredients.
  • Beat an egg, mix it with the raisin water, and add to dry ingredients.
  • Mix well.
  • Pour into a well-greased and lined tin.
  • Bake in a moderately hot preheated oven (~325 F) for about one hour.

Do you have any St. Patrick’s Day traditions?


2 thoughts on “Mrs. Neilan’s Raisin Bread Recipe

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  1. I am second generation Irish American. My grandparets were from County Leitrim and Cavin. They came to the US in the late 19th century. My grandmother Maggie worked as a govereness / cook and my grandfather Hugh was a sheetmetal worker. Daily breads of all kinds — were standard fare. Grandpa Hugh crafted several baking pans for things such as soda bread and Sally Lunn. I inherited these experienced pans and use them regularly – they are part of our everyday kitchen equipment. I continue to make our Irish Soda bread in one of them and roast potatoes or other items in the others. We do have a traditional Irish American dinner on St. Patrick’s Day and it is all about family, food and friends. Cooking in the vessels my grandfather made – making similar recipes that my grandmother and her daughters made- connects me to these roots of mine that I cherish. Along with authentic music and alot of reminiscing and “reminding” our children of the struggles and sacrifices they made – we embrace our culture!

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