I am the daughter of an Irishwoman. She was the wife of an Irishman.
Apparently, so am I.
Okay. So I’m not Irish. Even on St. Patrick’s Day, when Irish-people the world over warmly welcome us all into their league of jovial camaraderie, I am not Irish. Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! they say. Nice thought, but I’m sure it goes deeper than that.
But growing up, if you were to step into my house, you may have wondered otherwise. My father adored, I mean adored, corned beef. He still does today. It was a staple in our household. It didn’t help that my sister could reproduce a spot-on Irish brogue. And on Saturday afternoons, my mom would bake – for her Irish Soda Bread was almost an obsession.
Looking back, I came think of Irish Soda Bread as my mom’s signature bread. It quickly became associated with holidays such as New Year’s – she would spend the eve baking loaves that she loved to serve with a salty ham and slivers of sharp cheese when the family would come over on New Year’s Day. And sometimes she made it for no reason at all.
I pulled out her recipe today and ran my hand over the yellowed paper. Her instructions were simple. I have always wondered where she got the recipe – it will remain a mystery, I’m afraid. But I have a feeling that if you are Irish, you will likely approve.
Maybe I am a wee bit Irish, after all. At least with this.
Irish Soda Bread
Cut into this hefty loaf, and your will find a moist and thick crumb, almost cake-like, thanks to the buttermilk. I personally love the raisins and caraway seeds in my Irish Soda Bread, but of course, adapt to your tastes if you are not fans of either. The slight sweetness partners well with a nice sharp cheese, and of course, a good salty butter. But of course, it is just as lovely all by itself.
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup raisins (more or less, to preference)
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Prepare a 10 inch pie pan or cast iron skillet by lightly greasing with oil. You can also bake it on a parchment lined baking sheet.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking soda, baking powder and salt. If you are using an electric mixer, a paddle attachment may be used. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture (using either a pastry cutter or paddle attachment of electric mixer) until the flour becomes crumbly. Add the raisins and mix. Add the egg and buttermilk, and mix until just combined.
Knead the dough, using the dough hook of the electric mixer, or simply by hand in the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a ball with floured hands. Place in the prepared baking pan, and press down lightly. If you like, cut a cross on top of the dough before placing in the oven.
Bake for 1 hour.
Enjoy while warm.