Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Soda Bread & My Fourth Grade Teacher

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm not Irish but I do like corned beef/cabbage, U2, the color green and I love the Boondock Saints.

Here's a little St. Patrick's Day story. Remember 1988? Yeah me neither. Okay, that's not entirely true. I do have this one memory about Irish Soda Bread. What? Let me explain. When I was in fourth grade in 1988, my teacher, Mrs. Trivers taught our class how to make Irish Soda Bread. To this day, she is still one of my favorite teachers. She was one of the first person to ever encourage me to follow my dreams. She helped me put together an illustrated short story book which she helped me enter into a book fair. I think that was the first time I realized that I enjoyed writing. Every year around St. Patrick's Day, I always think of her whenever I see Irish Soda Bread. So this month, I am making Irish Soda Bread as a part of my baking challenge.

As I was saying, it was 1988, probably in the month of March, near St. Patrick's Day, Mrs. Trivers announced that instead of science, we were going to bake Irish Soda Bread. We cheered! It was almost better than recess! Okay, not really, but it was better than science. She took out all the ingredients we would need, split the class into small groups, explained how baking was a science and the importance of precise measurements. The best part about making this bread is that it does not need to look perfect. In fact, the less you mess with it the better it looks. Okay I take that back, the best part about making this bread is eating it!

Thanks for everything Mrs. Trivers! You made learning so much fun!

A few weeks ago, I decided to recreate this childhood memory by seeking out a recipe that was similar to the one I made with my teacher. I found this quick and simple recipe. Upon further research, I discovered that this recipe is not technically Irish Soda Bread due to the addition of an egg and sugar. I think they consider this recipe more of a "cake" or just soda bread. I'm not so technical. When this came out of the oven, it smelled just like that afternoon in 1988.

Sometimes when I forget to print out the recipe, this is what I have to do...

Gather all the ingredients together.

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

I cubed the butter into small pieces and worked it into the dry mixture until it was crumbly.

Add raisins to the crumbly mixture.

Then add the wet ingredients.

Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together. I love that you can make this without fancy equipment because I don't have any of that.

After everything is mixed together, with floured hands knead it a bit and work into a ball, don't mess with it too much or it will end up really tough.

The dough is really sticky at this point and that is how it is suppose to be.

Score an X on the dough to ensure more even baking.

Fresh out of the oven!

View from the top.

A comparison shot of the bread I made (LEFT) and the photo from the recipe (RIGHT). I think next time, I am going to sprinkle the top with sugar before baking for some extra sweetness.

 Inside view.

Close-up of inside view.

For some reason, I remembered this bread to be sweeter but maybe we just added more sugar back then. I love how rustic this bread turned out and you can definitely tell that it is a peasant food because of the very small amount of butter and sugar use to make this. I think the Irish ate this bread with their meals but I prefer to eat it with some jam and tea.


Sarah Soon-To-Be said...

I hate all those fancy equipment recipes. I spooned out my muffin batter with an old Yogurtland spoon last night. Hey, it worked!

Glenn Jones said...

Stop making me feel old! In 1988 I was a cocky new MBA....