I have a very Irish last name (think of O'Donaghue...it's only a little less Irish-sounding) but know very little about the actual culture of my country of origin. I know they have a soccer team. I know that Guiness comes from Ireland. And I know that the flag is a vibrant green, white and orange. I also know that the arts play a great role in the lives of the Irish - they're famous for bagpipes. Or wait - maybe that's Scotland?
See? I have a lot to learn.
I might not know Ireland but if there is one thing I know, it's bread. I'm not big on corned beef and I could take or leave cabbage, so when March 17 rolls around, I think Irish Soda Bread. This recipe, which I pulled from a blog and now I can't remember whose, let's you kick off St. Patrick's Day early. Unless you've already started celebrating.
Irish Soda Bread
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup raisins
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 425°. Sift together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and baking soda into a large bowl.
2. Using a pastry cutter (I used my stand mixer and it worked fine), work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then stir in raisins.
3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.
4. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in some more flour. Do not overknead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf.
5. Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about 1/2'' deep in an "X" shape. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife, about 35-45 minutes. Cool and serve at room temperature.
How are you celebrating the luck of the Irish this year?