When I was a kid, my parents hosted children from Ireland through Project Children, an organization that gave kids from troubled areas in Ireland (north and south) a 6-week adventure in the United States. My parents participated in this program for many years. Each summer vacation welcomed a new friendly face from aboard with smiling Irish eyes. I made lots of pen pals, and I think about my old Irish friends often.
One of the ways we shared our cultures was through food. While my family entertained the girls we hosted with NJ boardwalk cuisine – hot dogs, French fries, sausage and peppers, brats, and soft-serve cones – we acquired authentic Irish recipes that were delish. My grandmother loved having the girls over. She was Scottish and Irish. And a damned good cook. She made the girls her family’s Irish Soda Bread recipe, which was well-received and deemed authentic.
For every Project Children event or St. Patrick’s Day party, we always made my grandmother’s Irish Soda Bread. It’s a hit and is guaranteed to be devoured.
So, here it is. My grandmother’s Leprechaun-approved Irish Soda Bread recipe.
2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
3 Tablespoons shortening or margarine
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins, dark or golden, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3 tablespoons of sugar.
- Add shortening and cut into flour with two knives or a pastry blender until shortening is in fine pieces.
- Make a well in the center of the flour, pour in the buttermilk and add raisins. Mix lightly.
- Turn in a lightly floured board and knead gently a few times. Shape into a 5-inch thick round loaf and place in prepared pan.
- Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut dough crosswise into quarters, about 1/3 of the way through. Brush top surface with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar mixed with the cinnamon.
- Bake 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with butter or margarine.