OK, so I’m a little behind the power curve on this one, but I had to share.  I’m not Irish, but I’ve adopted St. Patrick’s Day as one of my favorite holidays to celebrate.  I can’t even tell you why, except that I love the color green and I have a t-shirt that says ‘I’m not Irish, but kiss me anyway.’  I wear it proudly, paint my nails green and always make Irish Soda Bread.  ALWAYS.  (Thankfully, it’s one of the few quick breads my husband really likes.)

Irish Soda Bread is a scone-like bread that uses both baking soda and baking powder and features currants or raisins and caraway seeds.  It’s slightly sweet and has a slight ‘licorice’ taste from the caraway seeds.

For a traditional Irish Soda Bread, try King Arthur Flour’s Irish Soda Bread recipe

Irish Soda Bread came about, basically, because yeast was hard for poor Irish farmers to find, and so they used various means to add an acid/alkali component that would cause bread to rise.  A mixture of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar around that time has now become what we call ‘baking powder.’   For more history, go to Irish Soda Bread History.

For years, I’ve been using Martha Stewart’s Irish Soda Bread recipe. It’s excellent with a little butter and tea.

However, this past Sunday, I tried a new recipe out: King Arthur Flour’s American Irish Soda Bread.  It’s made with mostly whole-wheat flour and I think I liked it better.  The link above (and below) calls for 3 cups all-purpose flour.  My King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat Baking Book features the same recipe, except subbing 2 cups white whole wheat flour for 2 of the cups of all-purpose.  The rest of the directions are the same.

Irish-American Soda Bread with Whole Wheat Flour

It may not be St. Patrick’s Day anymore, but consider making this to enjoy with a warm cup of tea as we continue to shiver through these last cold days of winter!

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1/2 cup yogurt)
1 cup (5 ounces) currants or golden raisins, firmly packed
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon milk, for glaze
1 tablespoon coarse sugar, for topping

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and light-colored, about 2 minutes. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then 1 cup of the flour. Gently beat in half the buttermilk (or milk/yogurt mixture), then another cup of the flour. Add the remainder of the buttermilk, and the final cup of flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the currants and caraway seeds.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 8″ x 3 1/2″ round pan (or a 9″ x 3″ round pan), one whose capacity is at least 5 1/2 cups. A souffle pan or panettone pan is a good choice. Drizzle the milk atop the batter, and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the bread in a preheated 325°F oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the top for the final 15 minutes, if it appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the bread from the oven, wait about 5 minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a rack to cool. Allow the bread to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Yield: about 12 servings.

Alternatively, spoon the batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake the bread in a preheated 375°F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

 Nutrition Information: 16 slices

Calories: 200, Fat: 6g, Protein: 5g, Complex Carbohydrates: 24g, Sugars: 10g, Dietary Fiber: 3g, Cholesterol: 40mg, Sodium: 222mg

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Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician.  She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related.  An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy.  Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive!  You can find her at www.thefrozenpineapple.com.