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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.