“Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” – Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! As most folks associate St. Patrick’s Day with green beer and Leprechauns, I am most excited because today is the day before (drumroll please)….my Birthday!! Woohoo!
I have fond, vivid memories of my mom bringing my grade school class St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes to celebrate my birthday, beautifully decorated in emerald green icing and clovers. (But that’s a different blog post!)
Tonight I am invited to my friend’s home for traditional corned beef and cabbage. Yum!! I volunteered to bring the Irish Soda Bread. Easy enough! Since we have some great bakeries in town I will just swing by the bakery, drop a couple bucks and I’m on my way.
Huh?? NONE of the bakeries baked any Irish Soda Bread?? (Or green cupcakes worthy of Mom!) So, I checked my calendar. Yep, I have the date right, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.
Determined and dressed in my green shirt I headed to the grocery store bakery section. Whaatt?? No Irish Soda Bread (and of course no green cupcakes!!) Ugh!
Now I was on a mission!! I searched the baking aisle for Irish Soda Bread mix. Let’s see… there are mixes for honey wheat, white, multi-grain and even sweet Hawaiian bread. But no Irish Soda Bread mix!
Off to the frozen bread section…Garlic Bread, biscuits, French bread, and dinner rolls. But no Irish Soda Bread. Seriously? (Is today really April Fools Day?)
More determined than ever, I grabbed some buttermilk and Irish butter and headed straight for the checkout. The cashier accidentally gave me 3 cents extra change. She said, “It must be your lucky day!” Yep! Lucky Lisa!
“Unique to Ireland, Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of a poor country. Made with only the most basic of ingredients: flour, baking soda (used as a leavening agent instead of yeast), soured milk (buttermilk) to moisten and activate the soda, and salt. A cross was cut on the top before baking to ward off the devil and protect the household.”
Easy Irish Soda Bread
(adapted from Simple Recipes)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: One loaf
4 to 4 ½ cups flour (I used King Arthur’s All Purpose Flour)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1 cup currants or raisins (I used currants)
1 large farm fresh organic egg, lightly beaten
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place rack in center of oven.
Whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the raisins or currants.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until dough is too stiff to stir.
Dust hands with flour, then GENTLY knead dough in the bowl just enough to form a rough ball. (Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky.) DO NOT OVER-KNEAD!
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. (Note: dough may be a little sticky, and should resemble a shortcake biscuit dough)
Work dough until it just comes together. Again, DO NOT OVER-KNEAD!
Transfer dough to a baking sheet. Score top with an “X” shape.
Bake in middle rack until bread is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a long wooden skewer into the center. If skewer comes out clean, bread is done.
Remove baking sheet and bread from oven. Allow bread to sit on sheet for 5-10 minutes. Move bread to a wire rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tada!! How’s that for Luck of the Irish!!?
Do you have a favorite traditional recipe you use for special occasions?
Photos by Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.