With St. Patrick's Day arriving this Sunday, you may be thinking about the things associated with the Irish. Since part of my ancestry is Irish, I've become very interested in the Irish and British ways of living. It's interesting to learn about this culture and it's even more interesting to find out what the Irish enjoy eating.
One food that is best-known of the Irish is the recipe I'm passing along to you, which is for "Irish Soda Bread". This is an old-fashioned quick bread that relies on baking soda for its leavening, which of course is how name of the bread is coined. It's an interesting bread and rather different in terms of taste and texture.
There are many versions of this bread, but I'm giving a version that is possibly the most basic. Some recipes call for sour cream, some for a mixture of whole wheat and rye flours, and some call for raisins and caraway seeds. However, this version is made with regular all-purpose flour. Virtually all the versions of this recipe call for buttermilk, as does this one. This recipe is mildly sweet and the addition of caraway seeds gives the bread a unique and characteristic flavor.
Like many recipes, it's traditional to mark a cross on the top of the bread. Legend states that this is to ward off the devil and protect the home. Serve this bread warm with some soft butter and it's really a wonderful eating experience. Some larger grocery stores stock Irish butter, which can be found often in the deli section of the store. This would be true Irish eating and would be an excellent conversation piece with those you share it with.
Last year, I shared a pie recipe that would be fun to make for St. Patrick's Day. Here's the link to it, if you missed it earlier:
You certainly don't have to be Irish to enjoy this interesting bread....but if you have some Irish background in your family, you're sure to enjoy it all the more!
IRISH SODA BREAD
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (found in the spice section of the grocery)
- 3/4 cup currants or raisins
- 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the caraway seeds and currants or raisins, stirring well. Add the milk and stir to form a dough that forms a ball. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Shape into a 6-inch round loaf and place on a greased baking sheet. With a knife, make a cross on the top of the loaf. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack to cool to warm. Yield: 1 loaf.