St. Patrick’s Day is fast upon us. And anything related to the Irish should involve a good story, right? In this case, the Irish item is soda bread, and the story is a family legend dating back to the plaid flannel grunge era of Seattle. Story: the best recipe for Irish Soda Bread came on a postcard (of the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia) sent from Seattle on “22Sep 1993” to Washington, DC.
The postcard was for me from my world-traveling brother, who was in Seattle after a cross-country drive with two friends. The trip had been long and leisurely; the car was a Geo Metro. The two friends were both longtime buddies of my brother. Somewhere between Chicago and Minneapolis, my brother’s two friends became a couple. (Now they’re married, with three kids, but that’s another story.)
One of the friends, Adam, decided to learn how to make bread once they got to Seattle (their destination by default because Adam’s sister lived there and they could crash with her). My brother would rave about Adam’s homemade bread. I was jealous. My bro promised to send the easiest of Adam’s recipes, the Irish Soda Bread.
Thus arrived the treasured postcard, which by now is torn and tattered. My brother never did have very good handwriting (and a postmark covers part of it), but this is what he wrote:
“Here it is – finally!
Irish Soda Bread
4 C. sifted all purpose flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 ½ t. baking soda
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 ¾ C. buttermilk
1 C. raisins
2 T. caraway seeds
1 T. melted butter
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add buttermilk, stir until all ingredients moistened. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Turn dough out onto floured board; knead 10 times. Form dough into round ball, place on greased baking sheet; with sharp knife cut shallow cross on top of dough (and say prayer to the Pope). Bake 50-60 minutes until golden brown – remove from oven, place on wire rack, brush top with melted butter.
Since that postcard arrived many years ago, I’ve made the recipe many times. It’s super easy and super good, and always brings back great memories of family, long car trips and longtime friends.