Irish Soda Bread from a young American girl with a passion for French food
When I was about 12 years old, I came across a recipe for Irish Soda Bread. My mother was of Irish descent and I liked soda so it seemed like the perfect bread to me. I could just imagine cola bread in all its glory. I had never tasted it nor ever seen it but that didn’t matter. I was sure it would be wonderful.
I copied the recipe out of a church cookbook in my very best hand writing. It did not call for the soda pop I was expecting and instead listed baking soda as an ingredient. I was disappointed but I gave it a try. Turns out, I didn’t like it at all. I did decide though, that because I was Irish, I needed to be able to make it. I tinkered with the recipe for a while (about 40 years) and can now say that I enjoy the bread tremendously. I have always loved raisins and I find that a little bit of caraway goes a long way. I have learned over the years, to trust the recipe. Don’t over mix the dough. It will be sticky and wet. It will feel heavy. You will be certain you are doing it wrong but you are not. Fold the dough a couple of times, scrape as much as possible off your hands and make it into a round shape. Use a knife to mark it with an X. Put it in the oven, start a pot of tea and let it bake at 350 for at least 45 minutes. When a knife inserted in the center comes out clean or the internal temperature is 180, it is done. Allow it to cool and enjoy!
I have included the original copy of my “Irish Bread” recipe (in my very best handwriting). I have also typed the recipe with my modifications as I make it at home. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I enjoy the memory!
Jill Peterson, the owner of Pursuit of Pastry in Old Saybrook, started taking pastry classes at Johnson and Wales as a hobby. After the first class, she knew the childhood dream of becoming a pastry chef was about to become her reality.
Six years ago, with a few years of experience and a whole lot of courage fueled by her friends and family, she opened Pursuit of Pastry. Each year has seen steady growth and Jill has come to be regarded as the “go to” pastry chef in the area. Her interest in the science of baking as well as the history of foods and a general love of all things sweet combines to make for some great conversations. If you want to talk shop (pastry shop that is) Pursuit of Pastry is the place to go.