A few weeks ago, I attended a bridal shower for a friend of mine. Kristen is the future Mrs. of Ryan, Shaun's long time best friend and one of my oldest friends (even before Shaun was in the picture...many, many years ago. Our friendship was born when I had a cast on my ankle in 11th grade and Ryan volunteered to carry book bag for me after the much-dreaded Physics class...such a gent). Anyhow, we're super excited for these two and can't wait for the big day!
A sweet soiree to celebrate her transition into married life, the shower was filled with friends, good food, lots of gifts and small tributes to Kristen and Ryan's Irish heritage including one of the most creative and fun party favors I've ever received - a mini bread pan containing a loaf of the mother of the bride's famous Irish soda bread, complete with printed recipe. Let's face it, sometimes Irish soda bread does leave a bit to be desired...but not this one. A recipe that was handed down and morphed over time, this version is more moist than most of it's kind and has impeccable flavor. After not only consuming a few slices at the shower, I arrived home where Shaun and I dug right in to the party favor goods. After expressing my love of not only the party favor idea, but of the bread itself to Kristen, I was over the moon with excitement when Kristen and her mom, Kathy, gave me the go ahead to do a write up for TAA.
So in the midst of my Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes extravaganza, I also embarked on my first batch of Kathy's Irish Soda Bread. And now I'm sharing it with you, so read on.
Kathy's Irish Soda Bread
4 C all purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 C raisins
1 1/3 C buttermilk
Optional: 1 tbsp caraway seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Cut butter into the mixture until the butter is very fine - or mix with your hands so there are no large lumps of butter. (Note: I got down and dirty with the dough and used the best tool at my disposal; my own two hands. It's a sticky job, but it's really the only way to get 'er done). Add buttermilk and raisins and mix into soft dough. Kneed by hand a few times. Grease pan (generously!) and smooth bread evenly in pan. Cut an "X" across the top of the dough. Bake at least 1 hour, then check color and if top is wet/damp. If it is, bake additional 10 minutes (Note: in my old-as-dirt oven, my bread was done at 55 minutes. I was alerted by the extremely delectable smell wafting through my apartment. When I checked it, the bread was clearly done).
The result? I delectable none-too-crumbly bread with just a hint of sweetness brought to the table by the addition of raisins. Thanks for sharing with us, ladies!
Do you have any go-to Irish soda bread recipes? Or any other St. Patrick's Day treats or traditions that you follow? I know I have a corned beef in my fridge just waiting to jump into my slow cooker this weekend...
UPDATE: I should probably mention the type of pan to use! Kathy suggests 4 mini bread pans or one 8 or 9" round pan. I used one standard sized bread pan and the mini pan that I got at the shower. Any of these ways will work. I filled both pans about 3/4 of the way full.