Irish Soda Bread Recipe & History
In the United States, Irish Soda Bread is popular to accompany Corned Beef and Cabbage when celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.This recipe version of soda bread is known as Spotted Dog with the addition of raisins.
Irish Soda Bread can be found in homes and markets all over Ireland and it has been a staple of the Irish diet for the past two centuries. No yeast is required in this Soda bread – never has been in real Irish Soda Bread. Baking soda and buttermilk work together to help the bread rise while baking. The bread dough for Irish soda bread is shaped into a round loaf, then a cross is cut across the top with a knife.
Legend has it that Irish households made this cross in the bread as a superstition to keep the devil away and protect their families. The cross cut across the top also helps the bread expand while baking. Since many poor Irish farmers only had open hearths instead of ovens for baking, they had to bake their bread on a griddle or in cast iron dutch oven called a “bastible” over an open fire. This resulted in a bread with a tender yet dense cake-like texture on the inside and a hard crust on the outside. Many Irish-American families like to add raisins and caraway seeds to their soda bread which adds a slightly sweet flavor.
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