When I was growing up, my mother never let March 17 go by without a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Everything in our house “turned green” with her decorating. She loved the day, and the fact that her maiden name was O’Haver added more reason to celebrate. She always wanted to travel to Ireland, and indeed, she did finally get there.
Our St. Patrick’s Day menu always included Soda Bread, and through the years, I’ve found a couple of different recipes that I like. This first one is best served the day it’s baked, but it can also be made up to two days ahead and stored whole, at room temperature, in a sealed paper bag or wrapped in parchment. I serve it with “Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter.” Start your Irish menu with some Kerrygold Dubliner Natural Cheese” and crackers. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Cheers!
Rye Soda Bread
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar
- 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 cup rye flour (not dark)
- ½ cup unprocessed wheat bran such as Bob’s Red Mill
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
- 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 1 cup currants or golden raisins, or a combination
- Salted butter for serving.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine milk and vinegar in a bowl; let stand until curdled and thickened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together both flours, bran, salt, and baking soda; stir in caraway seeds and currants and raisins if using. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; add milk mixture and stir together, starting in the center and working outward, until a sticky dough forms (do not over-mix). Transfer to a generously floured work surface and, with floured hands, form a cohesive ball. (Do not overwork the dough.) Pat ball into a 7-inch-wide domed round and transfer to a baking sheet. Cut a 1-inch-deep X with a floured knife across the top of the round. Poke holes from the top through to the bottom of dough with a wooden skewer at 1-inch intervals (about 28 holes total). Bake 30 minutes. Turn bread upside-down; continue baking until cooked through and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 15 to 18 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving with butter.
This next recipe is for Brown Soda Bread and will add variety to your breadbasket.
Irish Brown Soda Bread
- 8 oz. white flour
- 8 oz. wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 beaten egg
- 2½ cups of sour milk
- Beaten egg or milk (to glaze)
Sift together the dry ingredients. Mix the milk and egg and stir in. Mix, then knead on a floured surface until smooth. Shape into a round cake and place on a greased sheet or into a greased loaf tin. Make a deep cross on the cake and brush with glaze. Bake in a hot oven at 375 degrees. For 35 to 40 minutes.
Note: About halfway through the baking time, check to see if the cake is browning. If so, cover with a sheet of foil to keep it from browning too much.
End your celebration of St. Patrick’s Day with this famous Irish beverage.
Warm a stemmed whiskey glass. Put into it sugar to taste. Add strong, very hot coffee to within 1½ inches of the top, and stir well. (Remember to place a teaspoon in the glass before adding the coffee to avoid cracking.) Add whiskey to fill up to ½ inch below the top. Hold a teaspoon with its curved side up across the glass and pour one teaspoon of lightly whipped cream over it. Do not stir, but drink at once. (And start again!)
Traditional Irish Blessing
“May your songs be merry, and your smiles be bright. May your laughs be many, and your heart be light.
May love and friendship warm your home. May luck move in to stay.
May every morning be the start of another happy day. May you have health, faith, and strength to give life all your best.
And may St. Patrick’s Day and all your days, be very richly blessed.”