Thursday, March 4, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

My mom has a good friend from Ireland who is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. So charming! When I was much younger, I always liked answering the phone when she would call because of her accent... sort of clipped and lilting at the same time. She would say, "Hullo dear, is Mum home?"

Phone answering is less thrilling in general now. Kind of like driving, I guess. It was great at 15 and 16 (even being stuck in traffic, BEHIND THE WHEEL was great), but as time has worn on it's less exciting than it was once upon a time. The sparkle and shiny newness that once coated the activity of driving has worn off. By the way, I have a set of keys I've been looking for since the age of 15 when I lost them (so they've been lost, literally, almost half of my life). My mother said (a forever long time ago AND multiple times since) that she was sure we were getting closer to finding my keys. After a while I started thinking otherwise... that we were actually getting further from finding those stupid keys (which, in fact, are totally obsolete as we have not owned the car in a very long time). On occasion, Mom still likes to remind me about my keys (which she seems to find VERY funny) and it is usually brought up at inopportune moments. I think it's just for effect.

On the topic of phones though, my sister and I had a roommate in college who remarked that in my family we could "answer the phone like nobody's business" after we both observed my sister demonstrate her skill by vaulting out of her lofted bed to answer a prank call at 3 AM (it was for me!). Sadly, I haven't a clue what the actual purpose of said "skill" might be. Quick reaction time? Maybe it's somewhat Pavlovian for us- the reaction to a phone is a high speed run. Yes, although phones are not as exciting, I DO still have to answer if I hear it. If you are wondering, my cell phone is more often than not on "silent" and I don't normally carry it around at home.

The very sweet (and very Irish) Mrs. C, who the recipe came from, is actually dying of cancer now, so say a prayer for her.
(She died March 9th)

She gave my mom this recipe for Irish Soda Bread which we have been making for years. Fairly simple, but very good. I know of other recipes that include caraway seeds (totally optional, but if you like them you can go ahead and add some). You can try to smooth the top of the dough, but it will be a little difficult as it's so sticky and you probably won't be able to get it smooth. It should settle into place a little while baking, but it'll still have a very "textured" top crust.

It's great warm or toasted with a bit of butter for breakfast with tea or coffee. Crunchy crust with a craggy top and cakey interior. I thought you should have this to be prepared for St. Patrick's Day... or breakfast.

Irish Soda Bread

2 c flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 stick butter (4 T), melted and cooled
1/2 c sugar
1 large egg
1 scant c buttermilk
1 c raisins (or currants if you have them)

Add egg to 1 c measuring cup. Beat slightly and add buttermilk to make (total) 1 c of liquid.
In large bowl whisk together flour and baking soda. Add sugar and whisk again. Stir in butter, egg, and buttermilk until well combined, but do not over mix. Fold in raisins.
Pour batter into greased 9x5 bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool about 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to rack to cool completely.

(I guess you could eat it hot too if you really wanted...)

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