(this beautiful image is from The English Tea Store - click to see their version of the recipe)
Here is a recipe that we will be using this year for our soda bread. While ours is a traditional Irish bread leavened with soda instead of yeast, it is not the traditional "Irish Soda Bread" that most people think of. It is often served at Samhain (that's Halloween to some of us!), but we like it for St. Patty's Day. There are two things that I especially love about this bread. The first, of course, is eating it. The second is the name.
BAIRIN BREAC ("Speckled Bread")
On the day before you want to serve the bread prepare these ingredients:
-2 cups of dried fruit chopped fine (traditionally sultanas and raisins are used, but we like a mix of many different dried fruits all thrown in together)
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1 cup black tea
Mix the above ingredients together, cover, and let rest overnight.
The next day, prepare these ingredients:
-1 egg, beaten
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 cup melted butter
-1 tsp cinnamon
-big pinch of nutmeg
Add egg to moistened fruit and blend well.
Sift dry ingredients together in a big bowl, then blend the wet ingredients into the dry.
Turn the batter/dough (it is hard to put a name on the soft consistency you will have) into the 8" round pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
(It's done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
Allow the bread to cool before you try to slice it.
While my family follows a whole foods, mostly traditional foods style of eating, we often jump right off the wagon when it comes time to celebrate. This recipe is not too naughty, and we don't eat it every day, so we don't feel too guilty about indulging. Our favorite way to enjoy this bread is toasted and buttered, alongside cups of hot Irish tea. Its nice for breakfast, snack, or tea-time.
(There is all kinds of controversy about how to spell the name, whether or not to hide trinkets in the bread (to bring good luck to the finders), and if so, what trinkets should go in, whether it should be made with soda or yeast, etc, etc. Here is a funny bit about all that mess. We just smile and eat.)