Time for Irish Soda Bread!
Irish soda bread is a scrappy little thing that’s technically a quick bread but more similar to yeast breads than their sweet, quick cousins. A part of traditional Irish cuisine for ages (the oldest published reference dates from 1836, when a correspondent to the Newly Telegraph in County Down offered a recipe coupled with the claim, “there is no bread to be had equal to it for invigorating the body, promoting digestion, strengthening the stomach, and improving the state of the bowels”), it was originally made with only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. In fact, soda bread purists are quite keen on this fact and make the case that soda bread which includes any other ingredient is something else entirely.
Although the chemical reaction of the baking soda creating carbon dioxide predates this recipe by untold years (it’s credited to Native Americans), soda bread is now only ever preceded by the word “Irish”. That’s because soda bread became the solution when famine was the problem for the Irish, being the easiest and cheapest bread to put on the table. The culture depended on it and ultimately adopted it as its own, and although for most of us in the U.S. it’s something to be enjoyed only on St. Patrick’s Day, it remains an everyday bread on the Emerald Isle.
Our Bake Shop’s Irish soda bread includes raisins (which, if you ask the purists, makes it “spotted dog”) and caraway seeds so it has just a hint of sweetness and a bit of that caraway tang. We’re baking up and selling loaves already in advance of St. Paddy’s so you can, like the Irish, enjoy some every day! (And may we suggest enjoying it with some Irish butter while you’re at it? Irish soda bread- as many foods- only gets better with butter!)