Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick, Irish Soda Bread Recipe and Resources!

Happy Feast of St. Patrick, b. 387, d.461. Today throughout Ireland and many of the countries where the Irish immigrated, St. Patrick Day celebrations are taking place. St. Patrick was born on the western coast of the British Isles. His parents were Roman citizens. When he was about sixteen years old, he was kidnapped by a band of raiding pirates and taken to pagan Ireland and sold as a slave.

The conditions of his slavery were harsh, and it can be imagined that he wondered at times if he would ever be free again. Through the grace of God, he one day escaped and eventually found himself on the shores of his homeland.

 Patrick had a great calling by God. Throughout his young life many unusual and extraordinary occurrences took place. You can read about them in greater detail for children ages 8 and up in The Life of Saint Patrick by Quentin Reynolds or in a short version for younger children, Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola. There is a DVD, Patrick: Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle for children, too. For a short write-up for adults click on St. Patrick.

There are numerous ways we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick in the United States. Parades are very popular, as are evening events with Irish dancing, entertainers and special foods and drinks. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and his feast day is a solemnity in the Catholic Church in Ireland. Here in the United States it is an optional memorial. Many Catholics both Irish and "Irish at heart" attend Mass on the feast of St. Patrick. The prayer Saint Patrick's Breastplate is a favorite to be recited by many on this day. Breastplate Prayer

I have been busy baking my mother-in-law's recipe for Irish Soda Bread. There are a number of different versions of Irish Soda Bread, and this is one our family enjoys. It has a hint of nutmeg in it which gives it a slight flavor of this favored spice.

Here is the dough all ready for a short kneading.

Shaped, cut with the cross, the bread is ready for baking.

Fresh from the oven, the Irish Soda Bread is cooling before we enjoy our first piece!



4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Tsp. Salt
3 Tsp. Baking powder
1 Tsp. Baking soda
1/4 Cup sugar
1/8 Tsp. Ground nutmeg
2 Cups raisins (golden or others)
1/4 Cup butter
1 Egg
1 3/4 Cup of buttermilk

DIRECTIONS: Preheat over to 375 degrees F         YIELD: Two round loaves

1. Combine in a large bowl: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and spice.
2. Cut in butter with the pastry cutter. Mixture should be crumbly.
3. Add raisins.
4. Beat egg slightly and add to buttermilk.
5. Add wet buttermilk liquid to the dry mixture. Stir well until blended.
6. Turn onto a floured board and knead until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Grease two round pans.
8. Divide dough in half and shape each into a round loaf. Place each loaf in a cake or pie pan (8 inches). Press down dough until it fills the pans. With a sharp knife, cut a cross on the top of each loaf, about 1/2 inch deep in the middle.
9. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.  
10. Remove from oven. Let cool. Enjoy plain or with butter and jam!


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