St. Patrick's Day is well on its way, and if you're looking for a way to celebrate with your family (minus the green beer!), an Irish feast could be just the ticket. Even if you don't have your corned beef and cabbage ready to go, a few loaves of some simple but delicious Irish soda bread are all you need to get into the spirit of things. Throw in some lessons about Ireland's soda bread history, and this kid-friendly recipe is sure to be a tasty and educational hit!
What You Do:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix together the flour, salt, soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.
- Unwrap the butter and set aside the wrapper, which you'll use to grease the cookie sheet. Stir the butter into the flour mixture until it is crumbly and the butter is about the size of peas.
- Add the eggs, raisins, and sugar to the butter and flour mixture. Stir well until combined. Use your clean hands (they are one of your best tools!) to scoop the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and gently push them into the dough, mixing all of the ingredients together.
- Once the mixture is combined, add the buttermilk, a little bit at a time, until the dough is sticky. One person can stir the mixture while the other slowly pours the buttermilk.
- Sprinkle flour on the counter or flat surface, and remove the dough to be shaped into rounds.
- You will knead the dough ten times. Fold and press, then turn the dough. Repeat this process for a total of ten times. Kneading gives the bread its good texture but it is very important that you don't over-mix the dough.
- Cut the dough in half and shape into 2 rounds (or loaves).
- Rub the cookie sheet all over with the buttered side of the butter wrapper.
- When your loaves are on the sheet, use a floured butter knife to lightly cut into, but not all the way through, the tops of the loaves, in an "X" shape. This is called scoring.
- Bake the bread for 45 to 60 minutes until the bread is a nice nutty brown.
Enjoy with some butter and some jam or simply by itself. This simple recipe is a great beginners recipe for bread making and a fun way to help your child practice her math and measurement skills as she celebrates St. Patrick's Day.
Did You Know?
In the early and mid 1800’s, rural Ireland didn't have a strong tradition of yeast bread making. Baking was done in the home and time and supplies were limited. The use of baking soda as a leavening agent was quick, cheap, and effective and it produced a much more consistent result than yeast. It caught on quickly and soda breads soon became a staple of the Irish diet until commercial bread production began to take over. However, today soda breads are still popular in Ireland and many other parts of the world.
Adapted with permission from The Spatulatta Cookbook by Isabella and Olivia Gerasole (Scholastic, 2007).