Tuesday, March 15, 2016

St. Patrick's Day

A little bouquet of shamrocks that Joel brought me on St. Patrick's Day a few years ago.
St. Patrick's day is just a couple of days away. I love St. Patrick's Day--it's my Irish roots, I think. Our tradition is to have a corned beef, cabbage and boiled potato dinner (and in more recent history colcannon) with Irish soda bread and to watch "Waking Ned Devine" (a perennial family favorite ever since we first saw it back in 1999 or 2000).

I wish I could be back in County Donegal this St. Patrick's Day.
Or Dublin. I'd be happy to be in Dublin too.

A few years ago I made the best soda bread (even if the recipe isn't the most authentic one out there). It reminded me of traditional English scones. I heard somewhere that this sweeter version of soda bread is considered a tea bread and maybe wouldn't normally be eaten with a meat and potatoes supper, but we often make our own rules around here.

I looked at the soda bread at the local grocery store bakery out of curiosity. It was over $4.00 a loaf and it didn't look very good either. This recipe is easy to make, has a nice texture, isn't dry at all and has a great flavor.

I keep thinking I need to not wait a whole year before we have it again. Would you like some? Here's the recipe:

Irish Soda Bread

3 1/4 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup cold butter, cut up

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1/2 to 1 cup currants (my store didn't have them so I used dried cranberries but you could use raisins too)

1 Tbsp. sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first five ingredients (sift or stir together with a fork). Using a pastry blender, mix in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in buttermilk just until moistened. Stir in currants.

Turn dough out onto a well floured board and knead ten times. Shape into a round loaf about 2 1/2" thick and cut a deep cross in the top with a sharp knife. Sprinkle loaf with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake on a greased cookie sheet or on a baking stone for one hour or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into wedges and serving with real butter if desired. Yum.

Yeah, that's me and James Joyce in Dublin. 
Now if only I had a peat fire, I could curl up with James Joyce and be completely happy. Erin go bragh.

A little Irish wisdom for you in parting.

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