It’s coming! Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day and normally I am THE MOST excited for this day. Growing up near the University of Notre Dame, the day has always been a huge celebratory event in my life. The city has a nice parade and everyone gathers together to watch while the river is dyed green! Yes, I AM excited for this day, even though I know I won’t be celebrating it to the same extent that I have in the past… but truthfully I’m even more excited because of another event this weekend.
I’ve received a confirmation letter from the powers that be. It’s official. This weekend, I will be traveling across the Canadian-American border so that a friendly Border Guard can sign my “Confirmation of Permanent Residency.” I am just bubbling over with excitement! It means that soon I will become a PERMANENT RESIDENT OF CANADA. Which means I will be able to get a job, go to school, receive medical benefits… everything! And most importantly it means that Kevin is locked in to being with me for the next three years. (Bwuahaha!) Yes, it’s true. Canada made him promise to take care of me for three years. Isn’t that a neat trick? I get to live in Canada and be with the love of my life for a government-guaranteed three full years (at least). Actually… that’s more of a guarantee than most marriage contracts.
So in addition to all that upcoming excitement, I really, truly, very-much-so wanted to make some sort of traditional dish for St. Patrick’s Day this year. For quite some time now, for reasons unbeknownst even to myself, I’ve been yearning to make authentic traditional Irish Soda Bread. This intense urge is slightly baffling because although I do appreciate St. Patrick’s Day, in truth I’ve never even tried Soda Bread before- in ANY form!
A Google search for “Traditional Irish Soda Bread” provides about 10 bazillion results, all of which vary drastically. I looked and looked and it seems that most of these recipes really aren’t “traditional” at all but have been doctored up and transformed into fancy desserty treats.
According to various sources, Traditional Irish Soda Bread is not dessert bread. It is a quick-bread meant to be served with meals and most certainly does NOT contain any of the following ingredients:
- “Zest” of any kind
- Irish Wiskey – merely a stereotype
- Honey, Sugar, Eggs – not in “bread”
- Garlic – not Irish
- Shortening – Crisco was introduced to the US in 1911, not in the 19th century
- Double Cream – Irish peasants would most likely not have access to this
- Sour Cream – traditional in Eastern European dishes but did not become popular in the US and European kitchen until the past 50 years
- Yogurt – Not a 19th century Irish baking item
- Chocolate, Chiles, Jalapenos- obviously
- Fruit – only in Christmas/Easter cakes and other special occasion dishes
Apparently, traditional Irish Soda Bread contains flour, baking soda, salt and soured milk. THAT IS IT! If you add raisins, it becomes “Spotted Dog” or “Railway Cake.” Actually, if you add raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar or shortening then it is no longer “bread” but “cake.”
Whenever other things are added, it might be tasty, but it is not TRADITIONAL Irish Soda Bread.
Here’s my Non-Traditional Irish Soda Bread. Make it truly Irish (kidding!) with a slathering of awesome Whiskey Butter & of course, an Irish Cofee.
(Admittedly) Non-Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Makes: 1 Loaf
- 4 tablespoons of your favorite Irish Whiskey
- 1 teaspoon Honey
- 1 cup Raisins
- 4 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoons White Sugar, plus a bit for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 tablespoon Orange Zest
- 1¼ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten (2 eggs?)
- ½ cup Butter, cubed & chilled (melted??)
- ¼ cup Butter, melted
- In a small saucepan bring Whiskey and Honey to a boil. Stir in Raisins, cover and remove from heat. Set aside to steep.
- Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, whisk together Flour, Sugars, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt and Orange Zest.
- With a pastry cutter, cut in the cubed butter. Search through with your hands to find any last remaining large blobs of butter. Pinch them into the flour mixture with your fingers.
- Stir in the raisins, 1 cup of the buttermilk and the egg.
- Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly for one minute and pat into a round loaf. It won’t come together completely, something more like scones or biscuits.
- Place onto a paper-lined baking sheet. Mix together the remaining ¼ cup Buttermilk and ¼ cup melted Butter. Brush mixture over top of loaf. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes. While baking, periodically brush the top with more of the Buttermilk/Butter mixture and sprinkle with more sugar.
- Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.
- Beat ½ cup butter until very fluffy.
- Beat in 1 teaspoon of Whiskey at a time, adding more until you find a taste & consistency you like.
- Do not give to children.
- Serve with Soda Bread.
- 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 ½ ounces of your favorite Irish Whiskey
- 1 tablespoon whipped cream (if desired)
- Warm a tall mug by swishing hot water around in it. Empty then pour in hot coffee.
- Stir brown sugar in coffee until dissolved, then stir in the Whiskey.
- Carefully spoon whipped cream over the top.
Some Truly Irish Phrases…
HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY! (singular)
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit
Pronounced: La ale-lah pwad-rig son-ah ditch
HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY! (plural)
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh
Pronounced: La ale-lah pwad-rig son-ah jeev
ST PATRICK’S DAY BLESSINGS
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!
Pronounced: Ban-ick-tee na fay-lah pwad-rig
Éire go Brách
Pronounced: Air-rah guh braw
HEALTH AND WEALTH
Sláinte is táinte!
Pronounced: slawn-chah iss tan-chah
A PINT OF GUINNESS, PLEASE
Pionta Guinness, le do thoil
Pronounced: Pine-tah Guinness, le doh hull
WHERE WILL YOU BE WETTING THE SHAMROCK?
Cá mbeidh tú ag fliuchadh na seamróige?
Pronounced: Ka may two ig fluck-ooh na sham-roge-ah
LUCK OF THE IRISH
Ádh na nÉireannach
Pronounced: ah na nare-in-ack
KISS ME, I’M IRISH
Tabhair póg dom, is Éireannach mé
Pronounced: Toe-er pog do, iss air-in-ack may
- Celebrate St Patrick’s Day with cake (country-days.co.uk)
- The Tradition of Irish Soda Bread (whenlifegivesyouchocolate.com)
- How to Make a One-of-a-Kind St. Patrick’s Day Costume (wholesalecostumeclub.com)
- The Only Way to Celebrate St Patricks Day – When Irish Ideas are Smiling (irelandblogger.com)
- bon appetit : irish soda bread (bonjourjacqueline.com)
- Go Green Take Two: Irish Soda Bread (darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com)