Baking & Dessert

By Emma Haberman | March 14, 2012

Photo: Emma Haberman

Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day – probably either your favorite or least favorite day of the year. If you like rowdy parades and bar crawls, you’re already planning your best green outfit and practicing your shamrock face paint. If you’re the rest of America, you’re praying for rain so that you have an excuse to stay quietly at home until March 18th.

Yes, St. Patrick’s Day in the United States has become synonymous with Irish coffee and green beer, but the holiday actually has a deep-rooted religious origin. It recognizes St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who is considered largely responsible for spreading Catholicism in the country. St. Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock clover to explain Catholic concepts, and has so come to be associated with the color green.

Sipping on whiskey and Guinness is as fine a way to celebrate as any, but let’s not forget about the great tradition of the St. Patrick’s Day feast. Soda bread is a delicious Irish tradition that requires less kitchen commitment than the classic corned beef and potatoes. A form of “quick bread”, soda bread is leavened without yeast. Baking soda acts as the rising agent here, and gives the bread a unique tart flavor.

Photo: Emma Haberman

In Ireland, soda bread is often made with yogurt or stout beer instead of buttermilk – feel free to experiment. This recipe is a dear friend’s family classic, and I didn’t want to stray too far from tradition. Though the bread can be savory, adding dried fruit and serving with sweet butter or jam transforms it into a scrumptious dessert or breakfast toast.

Enjoy, and have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day!

Photo: Emma Haberman

You can follow Emma on Twitter (@habermania)

Irish Soda Bread with Salted Maple Butter Recipe

Servings: 1 loaf
Calories: 215 per piece per serving

Ingredients

Soda Bread
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 11/4 cups buttermilk
Butter
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp dark amber maple syrup
  • 1-2 pinches coarse sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a mixing bowl.

2. Stir in the dried cranberries and slowly add the buttermilk until a sticky dough forms. Knead the dough on a floured surface until no longer sticky. Form into a flat, round loaf and place on a buttered baking sheet. Use a knife to cut an X into the top of the loaf.

3. Bake at 375F° for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350F° and bake for an additional 40 minutes.

4. While the bread bakes, mix the butter and maple syrup together in a small bowl using a fork or spoon. Add a few pinches of sea salt. Store in a small bowl or ramekin and cover in plastic wrap in the refrigerator until chilled.

5.Serve the bread while hot, slathered with maple butter and an additional pinch of sea salt.

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