I may be more connected to my Italian roots, but my mother blessed me by marrying a full-blown Irishman! So not only do I love to eat, but I also like to enjoy a drink or two… or three! Being 50/50 Irish and Italian has always been quite fun for me growing up. Being able to celebrate and learn about each culture’s traditions has been quite theexperience. Not only am I lucky to be half Irish, but am especially lucky to live near Boston, because when it comes time to celebrate my Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day, it is always a good time at the Pubs downtown!
In order to properly celebrate the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, I will be posting several different traditional Irish recipes - the first of which will be Irish Soda Bread!
Now, the key word here is traditional. There are so many Irish recipes in the states that have a ton of different ingredients and variety of flavors. For instance, many people tend to add raisins to Soda Bread, when in actuality, traditional Irish Soda Bread has no fruit in it whatsoever! When you add fruit, it is considered to be a teacake or fruit bread, but not soda bread. Although you can add fruit to jazz it up, the Irish are very simple and when it comes to their baking, simple is more!
There are two different types of Soda Bread: Cake and Farl. The cake style of Soda Bread is the more common type of Soda Bread. It is kneaded and shaped into a mound, cut into halfway cross wise, and baked in an oven. When making farl, the dough is cut completely through cross wise to create four separate pieces and is usually baked in a heavy frying pan.
Recipe note: If you want to try a recipe with fruit you can add a 1/2 cup of raisins, craisins, or currants. If you do not want to add fruit, you can still jazz the recipe up a bit by adding a teaspoon of sugar.
The Cultural Dish
4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 425F. Prepare a baking sheet with a little bit of flour so the dough will not stick when placed on the sheet. In a bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients. Working somewhat quickly, add the buttermilk and combine to form a sticky, rough, dough. Dump the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface. Knead the dough, but only for 30 seconds or less. You do not want to over-knead! The dough should still be fairly rough and lumpy.
Place the dough onto your prepared baking sheet and form it into a round mound. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross halfway through the length of the dough. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the bread feels hollow. You can check this by picking up the bread and tapping the bottom of the loaf. For a less crunchy crust, remove the bread from the oven once it is done and cover with a clean tea towel or dishcloth. If you want a more hard crust, then just let the bread cool openly on a wire rack.