Watch Cooking Channel

Irish Soda Bread: Is it Actually Irish?

March brings with it the hope of spring, at least in New York (and the nagging fear that we could still have one more big snow storm), and all that comes with the new season — crocuses peeping out of the earth, nesting robins, and overeager fashion-lovers prematurely donning sandals outdoors.

For me, March has always meant the start of  Good Bread Season: Irish Soda Bread in March, followed by Easter Bread in March or April. In my family, my mom made these breads, two of my favorite foods since the start of my solid food-eating life, only for their requisite holidays, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Irish Soda Bread never reappeared as Christmas Bread or Happy Birthday Bread, and Easter Bread was never reincarnated as Sorry Your Hamster Died Bread or Just Because Bread. I accepted that it must be this way to preserve tradition and make those holidays really special. And with Irish Soda Bread, since it’s a traditional Irish food, it should be served only on the one day of the year when my family celebrated its partially Irish heritage.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve wondered: Is Irish Soda Bread a traditional Irish food?

A quick Google search will reveal that Irish Soda Bread is no more Irish than fortune cookies are Chinese. There’s a really in-depth explanation of the bread’s history over on MSNBC, but essentially, Irish Soda Bread as we know it is an American take on basic table bread eaten in Ireland; a quick bread made with inexpensive baking soda instead of the pricier yeast. The caraway seeds, raisins, currants that some recipes call for are all American variations and would not have been served in Ireland way-back-when, and the table bread would have been an everyday staple, and not just served on a special day, alongside corned beef and cabbage and green beer.

So there you go. Irish Soda Bread isn’t really Irish. But there’s no Santa, and that doesn’t make Christmas any less awesome, does it? I’ll be sticking with my beloved traditions and will make my Irish Great-Aunt Lillian’s soda bread recipe on the 17th, even though it’s not really Irish, and probably not even Aunt Lil’s — it’s likely she tore it out of Woman’s Day in the ’60′s or picked up the recipe from a neighbor.

Aunt Lil’s Irish Soda Bread

4 cups sifted flour
1/2 cups sugar
1/4  cup shortening
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups raisins (half regular, half golden)
1 egg
1 1/3 cups buttermilk

Sift flour, measure and add sugar, raisins, baking powder and shortening.  Add baking soda to the buttermilk then beat in egg.  Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients quickly.  Mix gently to form ball, using your hands or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Do not overmix. Drop the dough onto a lightly floured surface to form loaves. Cut cross in top. Place on greased pan.  Bake 360 degrees F for 50 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes before turning out.

Tips:

Irish Soda Bread is super-easy to make. You don’t even need to use a mixer (but I like to). A flour sifter will help, but if you don’t have one, you can use a fine sieve to sift the flour.

A large flour-sifter will run you about $20. It's a good investment, you'll use it again and again.

It’s important to remember no to overmix your ingredients. Irish Soda Bread is a dense bread, similar to a scone, but can easily become dry if overmixed. Quickly add the wet ingredients to a well you’ve made in the dry ingredients, and mix with your hands or a dough hook until it just comes together. And I know what you’re thinking. Shortening. I usually avoid it, but with this recipe, I’m afraid to substitute. You can try, but I always use Crisco, just get the kind that promises no transfat.

You can use your hands, but I look for excuses to use my dough hook.

When you’re ready to form the loaf, lightly flour your work surface so the dough doesn’t stick, but don’t use too much flour so that a bunch works into the bread. You don’t want to knead the bread, just gently form a loaf. This recipe makes one round loaf, but you can make two smaller loaves if you prefer. The cross in the top of the bread is both scientific and superstitious — it serves to allow the bread to cook evenly at its thickest part, and also serves to let the devil out of the bread. So don’t skip this step if you’re worried about that.

Ensure that your family is safe from demons with a quick knife slice.

To serve: In my opinion, corned beef and cabbage is optional (I loathe boiled meat of any kind, sorry) but butter is not. Slather a big slice with a schmear of softened butter, and serve, often, maybe not just for St. Pat’s .

Forgo the corned beef, but do grab a Guinness.

More Irish favorites:

Tags:

Comments (1739)

  1. Loans posted 01/02/2013

    Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]…

  2. parties for kids posted 01/02/2013

    Online Article……

    [...]The information mentioned in the article are some of the best available [...]……

  3. Read More Here posted 01/02/2013

    Title…

    [...]the time to read or take a look at the content or web pages we have linked to below the[...]…

  4. cheap bridesmaid dresses posted 01/02/2013

    Websites worth visiting…

    [...]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[...]……

  5. dig this posted 01/02/2013

    Title…

    [...]Here is an excellent Blog You might Locate Intriguing that we Encourage You[...]…

  6. project payday posted 01/02/2013

    Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]…

  7. onebuckresume posted 01/02/2013

    Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  8. health insurance benefits posted 01/02/2013

    Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  9. article writing service posted 01/02/2013

    Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  10. transmission poles posted 01/02/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  11. timber prices posted 01/02/2013

    Recent Blogroll Additions……

    [...]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]……

  12. villa koh samui posted 01/03/2013

    Gems form the internet…

    [...]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[...]……

  13. singapore property posted 01/03/2013

    Blogs ou should be reading…

    [...]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[...]……

  14. web posted 01/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]always a massive fan of linking to bloggers that I like but do not get lots of link love from[...]…

  15. Karen Gritzma posted 01/03/2013

    Woman of Alien…

    Great work you may have completed, this web site is basically cool with amazing data. Time is God’s way of preserving everything from occurring at once….

  16. Title…

    [...]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we really feel they may be really worth a go by means of, so possess a look[...]…

  17. Fahne posted 01/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]check beneath, are some completely unrelated web-sites to ours, having said that, they’re most trustworthy sources that we use[...]…

  18. wazootech posted 01/03/2013

    Related……

    [...]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[...]……

  19. website marketplace posted 01/03/2013

    Recent Blogroll Additions……

    [...]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]……

  20. fulham tickets for sale posted 01/03/2013

    Blogs ou should be reading…

    [...]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[...]……

  21. Online Business Directory posted 01/04/2013

    Blogs ou should be reading…

    [...]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[...]……

  22. premier league tickets posted 01/04/2013

    Websites you should visit…

    [...]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[...]……

  23. computer repair delray beach posted 01/04/2013

    Title…

    [...]always a huge fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but do not get a whole lot of link like from[...]…

  24. Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[...]…

  25. Build Muscle Size posted 01/04/2013

    Title…

    [...]very couple of web sites that occur to become detailed beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly really worth checking out[...]…

  26. virus repair boca raton posted 01/04/2013

    Title…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but do not get a great deal of link like from[...]…

  27. best android apps posted 01/05/2013

    You should check this out…

    [...] Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated data, nevertheless really worth taking a look, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got more problerms as well [...]……

  28. cooking posted 01/05/2013

    Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  29. Full Report posted 01/05/2013

    Title…

    [...]Here are a few of the web pages we suggest for our visitors[...]…

  30. Woman of Alien…

    Perfect get the job done you might have performed, this great site is de facto great with excellent info. Time is God’s way of keeping all the things from going on at the same time….

  31. saudian7raf 180 posted 01/05/2013

    Title…

    [...]that will be the finish of this write-up. Right here you will come across some sites that we consider you’ll enjoy, just click the hyperlinks over[...]…

  32. Links…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]……

  33. Travelgenio posted 01/05/2013

    Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[...]…

  34. grey contact lenses posted 01/05/2013

    Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  35. Fortmax Diet Brazil posted 01/06/2013

    Title…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I enjoy but don’t get a good deal of link appreciate from[...]…

  36. cost of dental implants check posted 01/06/2013

    Great…

    Thanks a lot for providing individuals with an exceptionally nice possiblity to discover important secrets from here. It’s always very kind and also stuffed with a great time for me and my office mates to search your website more than 3 times weekly t…

  37. binary options broker posted 01/06/2013

    Title…

    [...]check beneath, are some totally unrelated internet websites to ours, even so, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]…

  38. Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  39. Websites worth visiting…

    [...]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[...]……

  40. Pressearbeit posted 01/07/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  41. paleo chicken recipes posted 01/07/2013

    Title…

    [...]always a massive fan of linking to bloggers that I enjoy but really don’t get a whole lot of link really like from[...]…

  42. virus removal boca raton posted 01/07/2013

    Title…

    [...]Every when inside a although we pick out blogs that we read. Listed below are the newest websites that we choose [...]…

  43. virus removal delray beach posted 01/07/2013

    Title…

    [...]although web sites we backlink to below are considerably not associated to ours, we really feel they may be in fact worth a go through, so have a look[...]…

  44. canada goose jakke posted 01/07/2013

    shirt,boots,jacket…

    Thanks for your post on the traveling industry. I will also like contribute that if you are one senior thinking of traveling, it can be absolutely vital that you buy travel cover for retirees. When traveling, senior citizens are at biggest risk of gett…

  45. penetration testing posted 01/07/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  46. st john rentals posted 01/07/2013

    Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  47. mens suits tailor made posted 01/07/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  48. personal training london posted 01/07/2013

    Superb website…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[...]……

  49. amway posted 01/07/2013

    Sites we Like……

    [...] Every once in a while we choose blogs that we read. Listed below are the latest sites that we choose [...]……

  50. Maryland Web Design posted 01/08/2013

    Maryland Web Design…

    Here are a few of the internet sites we advise for our visitors…

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c