St. Patrick's Day brings back fond memories of my equestrian vacation in Ireland, too many years ago...a refurbished hunting lodge in a small town, incredible horses, charming Irish lads, misty mornings, emerald green pastures, a few exhilarating moments jumping rock walls and sinking in the bog, fox hunts, quaint thatched roof cottages, too many pubs and beer, and traditional Irish breakfasts with tea, eggs, sausage and soda bread.
Unfortunately, my Irish celebration wasn't the same this year without John in town. We missed hosting our annual St. Patrick's Day Party, but John did whip up some fantastic Bangers & Mash for the two of us on Saturday.
Our favorite St. Patrick's Day party dishes include Smoked Salmon Cheesecake with Green Onion Coulis, Irish Stew, Bangers & Mash, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Irish Soda Bread, and Chocolate Stout Cake.
I left work a little early this afternoon, came home, baked a loaf of Irish Soda Bread, and then joined friends for Corned Beef & Cabbage at their house. It was a lovely, casual evening and suppressed any temptations to join the crowd at McP's Irish Pub, one of the local hangs. My bread turned out moist and flavorful, especially slathered with Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter!
Irish Soda Bread
Inspired by Barefoot Contessa at Home Irish Soda Bread and Marilyn O'Reilly's Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup raisins (macerated in 1/2 cup dark rum or Irish Whiskey and then drained)
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Add the caraway seeds and raisins and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf.
Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. Cool on a baking rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with Irish butter!
It doesn't have to be St. Patrick's Day to enjoy this bread. It takes only about 10 minutes to combine all the ingredients and can be baked and on your table in an hour. You can omit the caraway seeds and/or substitute currants for the raisins.
In this loaf, I used golden raisins and omitted the caraway seeds. It was wonderful the next day, toasted with more Irish butter. I had some for breakfast, and lunch, and a snack...