Even though IL Fiorello is Italian and makes olive oil, part of my family, on my Mother’s side is Irish, through and through.
My mother believed in the “little people” and I heard a wonderful piece of music on the way home last night, called Ode to the Fairies of Ireland. It brought back lots of memories. Oh yes and her favorite song was, “Oh Danny Boy” where she would sign along and cry. She also always said that the best Irish party was a good old fashioned Irish wake. And in my experience that is so very true. A time to celebrate.
I was always told that the cross on the top of Irish Soda Bread was to symbolize the Catholic faith of Ireland, and the Gaelic Cross. Some say it kept the Devil out, but that is what a cross is supposed to do also.
Turns out that is true but more importantly, it helps in the baking of the bread. On St. Patrick’s Day we always had brown soda bread and Irish Stew, either lamb or beef or better yet a combination. My Mother said, “Potatoes and point “ meaning that they only had potatoes and no meat, so they pointed to the place where the meat was supposed to be. Hard times indeed. It makes this time of plenty look pretty good, even with COVID –19.
The shape and the content of the soda bread, is indicative of where you live in Ireland. Also whether you bake or pan fry the bread. I have always baked my soda bread, but maybe it is time to try to fry the bread. My Italian father (and me) loved fried yeast bread, but that will be another delicious blog. The difference of white bread vs brown bread may have had to do with affluence, brown being the coarser bread, and white being the more refined. I bake with half and half, white and brown flour. I have heard that the foam on top of your pint of beer is an excellent leavening agent because of the yeast and sugars in the beer. I truly would rather drink my beer and use baking soda, for the bread, but again maybe it is time to try something new.
There is a new web site, www.TheSocietyofthePreservationofIrishSodaBread.com that is kind of a fun read.
IRISH SODA BREAD
2 CUPS UNSIFTED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
2 CUPS WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
4 TABLESPOONS SUGAR
4 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER
1 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
1 TEASPOON SALT
6 TABLESPOONS BUTTER SOFTENED
2 CUPS BUTTERMILK
PREHEAT OVER TO 375 ° F
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.
Cut in softened butter until mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.
Turn out on lightly floured pastry board.
Knead gently until smooth.
Shape into a ball.
Place on silpat on a cookie sheet.
Press a large floured knife into center of loaf almost through to bottom.
Repeat at right angle to divide loaf into quarters.
Bake 40 minutes until top is golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove to wire rack to cool.
Brush top with milted butter.
Makes 2 loafs
Optional: Cranberries or Raisins
Soak 1 ½ cups raisins in Irish Whiskey and combine into dough, during the kneading.
Use the traditional three leaf clover for St. Patrick’s day. It represents the holy trinity and the number three is special in Ireland. Number “3” is also present on other Celtic Symbols such as the “Triskelion”, the “Triquetra” , The “Three Rays” of the Druidic Symbol, This symbol a triad or trinity. It is a symbol of the unity of body, mind and spirit.
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY
ENJOY THE IRISH SODA BREAD
REMEMBER WASH YOUR HANDS