i remember eating irish soda bread as a kid. fresh out of the oven with butter slathered all over it. melting and soaking in. later we'd toast it and slather it with...butter. it's great on it's own, but there's something about that butter...salty + sweet. i took a loaf as a gift to my first-grade teacher and she loved it. she even asked for the recipe (which i, at the time must have thought was really neat, since i still remember it).
that was when we lived at 5036 harvest lane, gibsonia, pa. we rode bikes in the "dirt hills" across the street. that's where i first had reese's pieces on my daddy-daughter date to E.T. i wore pink chuck taylors and a side pony-tail. it's where we used to walk around with a little radio singing "bomb in the U.S.A." we drank root beer out of baby bottles because we thought it was cool (i can still remember the way the taste of the root beer mixed with the latex bottle nipples). it's where i hid under the rocking chair (sobbing) because they were taking harry away and how could they do that? where emilie wore winter boots in the summer. with twinkly eyes and a diaper. where jessica, whose mother gave us this recipe, lived. i can still remember how she smelled. three of us shared a room; elizabeth (i was still elizabeth back then), emilie, and andy bob. don't ask me how. we also fit in a volkswagen rabbit and mom swears we didn't fight that much. i got my ears pierced there and i remember twisting the green stones as i got off the school bus, just like they told me to do, thinking i was pretty grown-up. i remember our easter dresses and picnics in the side yard in the spring. afternoons where mom would make us take naps while she watched 'little house on the prairie." and i was usually pretending to be asleep-i thought i was so convincing. where santa delivered a new, special crayon set one night. it fell from the sky and landed on our porch-just in time for scripture coloring. its where i learned to ride a banana-seat bike. and crashed into a boat and got my first black eye. it's where i stole a piece of grape bubble gum and was so terrified at what i'd done that i hid it in the downstairs bathroom hamper. until mom found it and made me take it back. to the store where she used to leave us in the car while she'd run in for a quick few items. which led to my having nightmares about the car starting on it's own. i would have to drive it and save my siblings. that was a heavy weight. it's where we'd take little family trips to crooked creek and sing mares eat oats and let's go catch their underwears while we drove along the windy road. and it's where em and i swear we saw a boy with a backward bottom. there was the blue bookmobile. shirts with ice cream cones, hearts, and rainbows on them. seersucker. and the smell of a little shop where my mom bought her wheat to grind for homemade bread.
back to bread.
i don't know why i thought of this the other day, but i pulled out the recipe and whipped up a loaf. it's been a long time since i've had it. but, wow, it's even better than i remembered...it's amazing what a loaf of bread can stir up.
Irish Soda Bread
Mix: 4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
Cut In : 1/4 c. butter
1 c. raisins
Mix & Add: 1 1/2 c. buttermilk*
1 t. baking soda
Knead batter with hands until well mixed. Grease & flour round loaf pan (7" souffle)**. Shape loaf and place in pan, making sure it's compact. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr + 15-30 minutes***. Done when toothpick inserted comes out clean and sides begin to pull away from pan.
*I rarely, if ever, have buttermilk on hand and I'm all about substitutes. Try this: 1 1/2 c. milk + 1 1/2 t. white vinegar. Mix first and allow to sit while you start mixing the rest of the batter. Then measure out 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to use in the recipe.
**I also don't have a round loaf or souffle pan, so i used a round glass casserole and it worked just fine.
***Not sure if it was the pan or the altitude, but I only had to bake for about an hour.
and please excuse the terrible photos, bad light + no contacts + lumpy bread = really weird focusing