I associate St. Patrick’s Day with grilled cheese and grey skies. Weird, right? My strongest St. Patrick’s Day memory from childhood comes from one year when my dad took my sister and me into Boston. It was a balmy 55°F day, warm enough to forgo our winter coats in favor of spring windbreakers. I remember walking around Boston, seeing people dressed in green everywhere we went.
Most of the day is a blur, but I do remember one part well. We were walking along the harbor. A drunk passed us in a green sweatshirt and a top hat. The pavement was wet, and the air was moist and earthy. It smelled like the beginnings of spring. Meanwhile, my sister and I were hangry. The Daaaad, we want fooood‘s were abundant. So my dad spotted the nearest food — a small stand right on the harbor — he got us each a grilled cheese.
I associate certain foods with memories: Chocolate chip cookies? School lunches. And certain memories with foods: Summer at the pool? Pizza. There are times throughout my childhood when food and memories are one in the same.
It was white bread and bright yellow American cheese, grilled to perfection. The crusts were undoubtably slathered with butter — the best grilled cheeses are all that way. And my little hangry belly became so satisfied that I forever associate St. Patrick’s day with grilled cheese and overcast skies.
Now, today we are not featuring a grilled cheese. But we are featuring a St. Patrick’s Day-inspired recipe: Irish Soda Bread! This bread took one hour to make, and tasted like a yeasted bread — only it’s not! It’s ridiculously easy, and can be made with or without a standing mixer.
Tips for making Irish soda bread
Skip the caraway seeds, if needed — If you don’t have caraway seeds on hand, don’t worry about it. They do add to the bread, but they aren’t necessary. You can substitute them with 1 tablespoon of orange zest for a different but equally delicious flavor.
Use legit buttermilk — There are tons of buttermilk substitutions you can find online if you’re in a pinch, but because this Irish soda bread recipe is so simple as is it’s best if you use actual buttermilk. Buttermilk gives this bread a great flavor and keeps it nice and springy.
Don’t sub whole wheat flour — Irish soda bread is fairly dense as is, so you don’t want to use wheat flour in place of all-purpose. But if you do play around with flour ratios, leave me a comment below with what you like!
Enjoy right away — This bread is best made on the day that you’ll be eating it. And if you are just two people —or don’t want a ton of bread —this recipe can be easily halved so you end up with one loaf.
Last, I topped this bread with peanut butter and honey, and it was deliiiicious!
1 cup raisins or currants, rinsed in hot water and patted dry
2–1/4 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet using olive oil or cooking spray. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and stir well to combine.
Create a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the buttermilk into the well. Stir the buttermilk into the flour mixture, starting in the center and working your way to the outside of the bowl until a dough forms. If needed, add additional buttermilk (1 tablespoon at a time) to form the dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Form a large disc out of the dough. Cut the dough in half with a knife and with floured hands, form two small discs out of the dough. Using a serrated knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep square or X into each disc of dough.
Place both discs of dough on the lightly-oiled baking sheet. Be sure to place the discs far apart, as they will rise while baking. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and bread tests clean when poked with a knife. Remove from the oven and allow bread to cool at least 20 minutes before slicing!