EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Okay, I'll admit it. I grew up hating Irish soda bread. Too dry. Not good toasted. Weird shape. People brought it to my house every St. Patrick's Day, and I graciously accepted it and tried to palm it off on my guests. I made sure that everyone had some to take home. Oy, such a generous hostess!
I finally learned to make it myself, to my own liking. I started with my friend Helen's mother's recipe. Helen's mom was born in Ireland and made the only edible bread I ever had. I've worked on it over the years, and now I'm pretty proud of it.
The recipe is coming up, but remember that Irish soda bread is best when eaten with unsalted butter and a generous serving of strawberry jam or Irish marmalade. Now that, partnered with a strong cup of red Irish tea is a wonderful thing. This year, I am keeping some for myself after the party!
The World-Famous, Outstanding, Incredible TAPinto East Brunswick Irish Soda Bread Recipe
3 cups flour, sifted or whisked
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
½ cup golden raisins (sultanas)
½ cup currants
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter-flavored shortening (melted but not hot)
3 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional but delicious)
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar. Mix in raisins and currants. Mix in caraway seeds, if desired. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk and shortening. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Do not overmix!
Place in the middle of a jelly-roll pan or other baking sheet with sides. Bake for about one hour. Test with a toothpick or cake-tester. This makes a large round, low-rising loaf. Be sure the middle is cooked. Remove from the pan and cool immediately.
When it's cool, cut the loaf into 4 quarters and then into slices.
Impress yourself. Show off. Learn to like something today.