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irish soda bread
a modern take on a traditional recipe
by Dana Currier
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Despite the way some pedants covet the conventions of the original recipe, one of the coolest things about Irish soda bread and St. Patrick's Day as a whole is the tradition of superstition. Before the loaf goes in the oven, most recipes instruct you to cut a cross into the top, plunging the knife deep into the dough. Practically speaking, this is done in order to ensure that heat gets into the middle of the loaf so that the whole thing cooks evenly. Many believe, however, that cutting the cross so deep is necessary in order to let the fairies out. Which makes perfect sense, of course, because how else are the fairies going to escape from our bread?

However you decide to tap into the luck of the Irish this March 17th, consider making a simple loaf of Irish soda bread a part of the festivities. A nice, big hunk of warm bread studded with tangy caraway seeds and soft, sweet raisins is the perfect accompaniment to your cup of tea or your glass of Guinness.

whole wheat irish soda bread
(recipe adapted from www.cookinglight.com)

1 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
cup wheat bran
1 cup raisins
cup sugar
1 T caraway seeds
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
t baking soda
1 cups buttermilk (or substitute 1 T lemon juice or white vinegar + enough milk to add up to 1 cups total liquid)
cooking spray

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 If making buttermilk substitution: Mix milk and lemon juice or vinegar and let sit 5 to 10 minutes.
3 Mix all dry ingredients.
4 Add buttermilk all at once and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
5 Knead a few times in the bowl or on a clean surface dusted with just a little flour.
6 Form into a ball and place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
7 Cut a deep cross in the top so those darned fairies can find their way out.
8 Bake for about 45 minutes. (You'll know it's done when you can tap on the bottom of the loaf and hear a hollow sound.)


Dana Currier is a boarding school teacher in southwestern Massachusetts who is currently waiting out winter by baking a lot for herself and her students.

check out these related articles:
please pass the blarney: a st patrick's day party | the lost art of baking bread | beer bread | milk-free bread

more articles by dana currier: dorm life take two

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