I am a “tradition” kind of mom. It doesn’t need to take a lot of work or brain power to make holidays fun for our family. Just putting out a few decorative plates or making a unique recipe from ingredients I already have on hand is enough. It’s amazing how the little things can form into new family traditions! This Irish Soda Bread is a quick, easy way to bring a little fun to the month of March or to enjoy with a hearty soup year round.
St. Patrick’s Day Traditions
St. Patrick’s Day has always been a day of fun in our house. The weekend before my kids create “houses” for the leprechaun to visit when he comes to our house. I know some families make leprechaun traps which are also a fun idea. We use recycled boxes (thank you amazon prime), all the green construction paper from our craft closet and our imaginations. The night before St. Patrick’s Day they pull out their little houses and set them up around our house. The leprechaun “magically” pays a visit that night leaving little green footprints and a trail to follow which leads to a pot of gold (coins) at the end of the trail.
St. Patrick’s Day Meal
Other ways we make this somewhat ordinary day special are by wearing green, checking out books from the library on leprechauns and Ireland and eating something green or Irish for dinner. This varies from year to year but we always try to make our dinner something special. I often make this Irish Soda Bread. Paired with a hearty stew, corned beef and cabbage or even some baked potatoes and roasted veggies this would make a great addition to your St. Patrick’s Day meal. By the middle of March, we are all looking for fun things to celebrate as we are coming out of the winter months.
History Behind Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread was adopted in the 1800s after the potato famine. It was inexpensive, with only a few ingredients and easy to make. Originally the bread contained nothing more than flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Over the years, recipes have been changed to increase the flavor and taste but the leavening agent remains the same: baking soda. Some areas of Ireland would cut a cross in the top of the bread to ward off evil and protect their families. The texture and flavor of Irish Soda Bread reminds me of a giant biscuit with a hard crust. It is a crowd-pleaser, quick to make and fun to eat. I hope you’ll give it a try!
Irish Soda Bread
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk see recipe notes
- 1 large egg
- 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup currants or raisins optional
- zest of one orange optional
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Set aside.
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and lightly mix together. Add the currants and orange zest if using and lightly coat with the flour mixture.
- Grate the cold butter directly into the mixture or cut the butter into small chunks or use a pastry cutter until the butter is finely incorporated. There should be no big lumps of butter, just small pea-sized pieces.
- Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir to lightly incorporate. If the dough is a little sticky, add a little extra flour. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead once or twice. This is a quick bread, so you don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour with a lot of kneading. Shape into a round circle.
- Transfer the loaf to the baking pan and score a large X on the top. Bake for 20 minutes and then check the top of your bread. If it is browning quickly, cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent burning. Bake until the bread is cooked through, about 45-50 minutes.
- Allow bread to cool 15 minutes and then serve warm. It can also be eaten at room temperature or toasted for a snack later. Enjoy!
- a mixture of ½ cup plain yogurt (or sour cream) and ½ cup milk mixed together (per cup of buttermilk)