Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Soda Bread for St Patrick's Day

Feels like old times this week: all the grandchildren (all four are young teens or tweens) are here for Spring Break. They are having a great time doing all the old fashioned things that kids will do if given the opportunity: swinging in the porch swing, helping with yard work, finding lizards, skateboarding, walking up to the school to run (and meet their friends), playing scrabble after supper, staying up too late and being too loud and sleeping til noon.

So what if they have smart phones in hand on the porch - that doesn't stop them laughing with delight as they swing back and forth.  They took pictures with their iPod of the lizard they found, but they still moved all the firewood to a new platform first. They googled the Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary and figured out words - but they still asked to play again the next night on our 30 year old "Deluxe" turntable board. Some things they do a little differently, but much has not changed at all. We do not need to worry about our upcoming generation: the kids are alright.

With them all here for St Patrick's Day, I thought it would be fun to have a "traditional Irish Breakfast", so we had a sweet Irish Soda Bread toasted and slathered with butter (they LOVED it), canadian bacon, fried eggs (3 of them wanted runny yolks!), tomatoes, "white sausage" (we used scrapple - not quite the same I know but all I could arrange for in a pinch, so close enough), and nice hot tea with cream and sugar. They also LOVED the tea - and wanted to know if we can have it again later today.  Sure - we'll have hot tea tonight with our St Paddy's Day Baked Potato Feast (all the toppings, including taco meat, bacon, cheese, crutons.... etc etc and everyone builds their own).

Here's the recipe for a moist, sweet version of Irish Soda Bread that has raisins and caraway seed in it. It is easy and quick to put together, but it has to bake for more than an hour, so take that into consideration.

Sweet Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
15 ounce box of raisins(about 2 1/2 cups)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
8 ounce package of sour cream (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use shortening to generously grease a 9" round baking pan or cast iron skillet. I used Thelma's old biscuit pan - Paul said he remembers her using this his whole life. I hope every family has an heirloom biscuit pan, cornbread pan or comal that still can make us feel warm and happy when we use it just like our mom or grandmother did.

Plump the raisins by pouring one cup of boiling water over them and letting them set til cool, then drain.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and caraway seeds in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir the liquid mixture into flour mixture and add the raisins. Mix it just until all the flour is moistened. Do not over-work this dough - it should be soft and sticky.

Pour the dough in the prepared pan. It's going to be homely looking.  Dust with a bit of flour, then use a sharp knife to slash a cross into the top, about an inch or two deep.

Bake for one hour and 5 minutes - a little longer if you think it needs it. Turn out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm, cold or toasted, with soft butter.

Not one kid thought the caraway was odd (although Paul did) - they all have eaten several pieces of it.  Definitely a keeper, and I am going to make another loaf to take to our Church's small group meeting tomorrow.

Update: Thanks to Pat @ SIGIS for the link! :-)

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