Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's Day! (With Irish Soda Bread recipe)

Rainbow in Waterford, Ireland, April 2008
 Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! I hope today brings you a bit o' Irish luck and finds you wearing a touch of green. If not, you'd best get some green on, else you're liable to be pinched! Personally, I'm debating between pulling on my "Kiss Me I'm Irish" t-shirt or my "Made in Ireland" t-shirt this morning. Ah, life's tough decisions, eh? 

I was planning to have an Irish Soda Bread tutorial today, but ran out of milk. The result of our milk "outage" is two-fold. One, I've been forced to eat dry Cheerios for breakfast. (True story. Things are pretty grim around here.)  Two, you're getting pictures of my St. Paddy's decorations instead of step-by-step bread instructions.The recipe and story for the Irish Soda Bread is at the bottom of the post.

My family's always celebrated St. Paddy's Day.  My dad's paternal grandparents are from Ireland and I was lucky enough to study abroad just 20 odd miles from my great-grandfather's hometown during my sophomore year of college. I returned to Ireland in 2008 and now am experiencing the heartbreak of watching first my brother and now my parents head off to the Emerald Isle this winter. (Boo to good financial decisions!) Thankfully, my brother was sweet enough to share a taste of Ireland with me. A box of 12 Cadbury Mint Crisp bars (deliciousness) arrived on my doorstep yesterday.

I've accumulated a fair amount of St. Paddy's Day decorations over the years. A friend gave me these snowman a few years back and I love them so much, they're on display from Christmas through the end of March.
 Remember Beanie Babies? This little lass, "Erin," I think, comes out every St. Paddy's Day.
 I bought my Irish flag in the Dublin airport back when I was studying abroad in 2005. It's huge, so it always ends up over a door.
No St. Paddy's Day celebration is complete at our house without a loaf of Irish Soda Bread. My (English) mom found the recipe in a magazine/newspaper in her newlywed days and made it for my (Irish) dad each March. I brought the recipe with me when I studied in Ireland and I can assure you, this bread has graced many an Irish oven. Because yeast doesn't always cooperate in Ireland's damp, cool climate, you'll find soda bread, a quick bread, on just about every traditional Irish breakfast table. Although the sugar coating in this recipe isn't traditional, it's too yummy to pass up. I always put the raisins in, but you can take 'em or leave 'em, depending on your feelings towards raisins. Don't worry, even though we're out of milk today, I made a pre-St. Paddy's Day batch earlier this month.

Bantry Brown Bread 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or just add a little vinegar to the bottom of your measuring cup and use regular milk)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Stir in whole-wheat flour and currants. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in buttermilk. Turn dough out onto lightly floured pastry cloth or board. Knead 10 times (or until all the dry ingredients are worked in . . . I've never had a problem with "overworking" this dough). Shape into 7-inch round loaf. Place on cookie sheet. Cut a cross in top of dough. Bake for 40 minutes, remove from oven. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and water in saucepan; bring to boiling. Brush over hot loaf. Return to oven for 5 minutes, or until bottom is golden brown.

Best enjoyed hot out of the oven, slathered with Kerry Gold butter, but also transports well for treks in search of the end of the rainbow. Until you find your pot of gold, here's some more Irish scenery and a blessing to wish you well this St. Paddy's Day.

Irish Road, Inishmor, Aran Islands, April 2008
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the recipe. I've never made Irish Soda Bread but now you've gone & inspired me! Just need to get some raisins and I'll be in business. Stopping by from FTLOB!
    http://my3littlebirds.blogspot.com/

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  2. Great post!! What part of Ireland did you stay in? I absolutely looooved visiting Ireland, I would go back in a heart beat. We went to southern Ireland, County Cork where the Sullivan's are from and the rolling green hills, the sheep, the people, the pubs = I miss it all! Love your decorations and am truly jealous of your Cadbury mint crisp, yum! Happy St. Patrick's Day friend!

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  3. Great decorations, love the snowmen! Thanks for the recipe, I'll have to give this a try!

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  4. Ugh...running out of milk! I hate when that happens.

    Your bread sounds fabulous, and I enjoyed hearing about your family traditions, history, and travels!

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  5. Thanks for the recipe! I'm going to try it <3 Hope you had a good st. patrick's day! :)

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  6. What a beautiful rainbow photo- nicely done. I really, really want to try those mint bars! They look so good. I'm a mint-a-holic.

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