Irish Soda Bread 101 A Multicultural Education

Despite the fact that my last three Irish Soda Breads have been disappointing, I, nevertheless, repeat my annual self-appointed duty to share my mother’s Irish Soda Bread with you.

The disappointing breads had their issues. On one occasion my wife Eileen left the caraway on the counter for me to use when I made the bread the following morning. I put everything together and proceeded to shake the container and added the caraway to the dry ingredients. After one shake I realized something was amiss. The caraway turned out to be celery seed.

The next bread was yet again sabotaged by Eileen. She bought the buttermilk, but it was not the usual variety that we normally use. This was made from buttermilk flakes which I don’t even know what that meant. The bread looked good, but there was a very bland and had an un-Irish-Soda-bread taste.

Bread three was underdone. Despite the fact that I applied the toothpick test, the bread was clearly undercooked and disappointing. But, I will be getting up on the horse next week to celebrate and remember.

Hopefully, you will too.

 

Every culture that has sent its representatives to our grateful shores has, along with hard-working people who had dreams of a new life and guts of cast iron, given America its language, folklore but, most of all, food. This morning our subject is Irish Soda Bread.

I have always viewed Irish Soda Bread the way my Italian friends thought of gravy, what we call sauce. Just as any self-respecting Italian would rather go hungry than be forced to eat pasta covered in Ragu, so, too, do I have my standards when it comes to Irish Soda Bread for no two soda breads are ever alike.

No matter how nice they look in their bakery wrapper, and regardless of the wonderful aroma that permeates the bakery, when you get the bakery-bought Irish Soda Bread home and attempt to slather it with butter, well, let’s just say it sucks. Supermarket Irish Soda Bread may suck even more. The only recourse true Irish Soda Bread Aficionados have is to only eat homemade Irish Soda Bread. But even here one must tread carefully. There are a lot of wannabes out there, but Jimmy is here to help you. Take this down:

Lizzie McHugh’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe

First. My Mother never had a recipe. She winged it. One day when Eileen and I were still living in New Rochelle, I called her for her recipe. She obliged, and I baked. I love having the first piece when the bread is still piping hot and the butter melts right into it. I didn’t love it this time. It didn’t even taste as good as a supermarket bread. I called her back and told her. She was confused and had me repeat what I had done. “I never said a tablespoon of sugar, you need at least a third of a cup.” Ok, I wrote the corrected recipe down and made a terrific Irish Soda Bread, just like Momma’s. Here it is for your baking and eating pleasure:

 

Ingredients

 

Combine

3 1/2 cups of flour

2/3 cup of sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1-tbsp caraway seeds (I like more I’m just saying)

1/2 half box of raisins

2 eggs

Buttermilk

2tblsps-melted butter

 

Beat the two eggs and add butter (let melted butter cool down) and enough buttermilk to bring the total mixture to 2 cups.

Add the liquid and dry mixtures and combine and place into a greased baking pan, round or loaf.

Put into a pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for about an hour. Ovens vary so I would check at the 50-minute mark.

Let cool…but not that long as there is nothing on Earth quite like a warm piece of Irish Soda Bread.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everybody.

 

 

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