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Many may have spent their morning celebrating with green beers in raucous bars, but I opted for a decidedly more traditional and quieter start to my holiday morning. St. Patrick’s Day has long been a favorite holiday of mine and a traditional Irish soda bread is something I look forward to every year. It’s a basic bread with minimal ingredients, which says a lot of about its country of origin. For a country that has a long, tortuous history with food, soda bread was an easy way to ensure that bread made it to the table each night. I have a feeling that our Irish ancestors would be shocked to learn that we now celebrate something that, to them, was a staple in their diet.

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Though, I’ll be honest, some of my additions are far from traditional. I doubt orange zest was readily available to many in the countryside of 19th century Ireland.

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This point of this post is more to ramble on about traditions than to actually show the step-by-step baking process. The lack of documentation is my own fault and for a more thorough breakdown of the bread, I will direct you to the inimitable Ina Garten.

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According to Irish folklore, a cross was cut into the dough before placing it in the oven (or over an open hearth, if you live in a thatched roof cottage by chance) to let out the evil demons and spirits while baking. While I made sure to etch a cross into my dough, the end result doesn’t show any such markings. But, given the sounds and smells that my oven emits daily, I think it may be too late to purge it of any maleficent spirits.

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Also not present here are the snowy flakes that were flying intermintently outside my window. I hear that spring is lurking somewhere around the corner.

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I prefer my soda bread with a smear of butter and cup of coffee.

But not to worry, I’ll be sipping my holiday beer before long. It is a holiday, after all.

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