I am a “tradition” kind of mom. I don’t think it needs 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!
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.
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. This year I think we will 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.
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!
Yield: 1 loaf Irish Soda Bread
Time: 10 minute mix, 45-50 minutes bake
- 1 ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 4 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 4 – 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup currants/raisins (optional)
- Orange zest (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 and 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 and use a pastry cutter until the butter is finely incorporated. There should be no big lumps of butter.
- Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and lightly incorporate. As you incorporate all the flour, knead lightly into a round loaf as best you can. This is a quickbread, so you don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour with a lot of kneading.
- 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 aluminium foil to prevent burning. Bake until the bread is cooked through, 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.
- I like grating cold butter into recipes instead of using a pastry cutter if possible. This gives me the small flakes I’m looking for without a lot of hassle.
- Buttermilk: I always pick up buttermilk at the store to use in my baking. I think it is superior to most substitutions. With that said, the best substitutions I have found for one cup of buttermilk are:
- a mixture of ½ cup plain yogurt (or sour cream) and ½ cup milk mixed together
- 1 Tablespoon vinegar replaces 1 Tablespoon whole milk in a cup, let it sit for 5 minutes before using
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice replaces 1 Tablespoon whole milk in a cup, let it sit for 5 minutes before using
Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂