Luck o’ the Irish Soda Bread

Well, Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you all!

I must begin by telling you how much fun I had in doing this photo shoot for my most recent Sweet Creation… Sweet Irish Soda Bread! My roommate Karley and I recently discovered our shared passion for blogging… and have utilized our unique gifts to make this photo shoot a success.  Karley is the one to thank for these amazing shots… she has such an artistic eye and gift for fashion, sure to make any girl a fashionista!  I have lived under the same roof as her for less than a year and can confidently say she has improved my overall sense of fashion and style since moving in with her… I was a boring mess!  Karley is such an inspiration to me; she pursues her passions and gifts full force and strives to devote time to things in life that will build her up and help her thrive!  She is a go-getter, my dance soulmate, face mask partner, harmonizer, and last but not least… has become a great friend!

Do yourself a favor and follow her blog NOW!!

Click here for Karley’s Blog!!

If you know me at all, you know that I am very enthusiastic and love, love, LOVE to celebrate any and every occasion imaginable! One only needs to step foot in my living room and glance up at the golden deer named “Rolf” mounted on the wall to see the current celebratory season and/or holiday displayed on his antlers (full disclosure… he is fake and from target).  One of my favorite holidays to celebrate is a day where it’s not only acceptable to pinch people, but is encouraged; a day where ordering a “Jameson on the rocks” it TOTALLY normal; a day where it’s impossible to hold back feeble attempts at an Irish accent (go ahead, let’s hear you say “Top O’ the Mornin’ to Ya!”); and a day where the color green is EVERYWHERE you look. As an Irish girl myself, I just had to devote my March blog post to this joyous day… St. Paddy’s Day!

You see, I am a myriad of different ethnicities… really though, I’m a mutt… I look like an Irish girl, claim an Italian last name, and love to see the shock on people’s face when they hear that I’m Armenian!  Sometimes I wish I could claim ownership of just a few nationalities to make my story and background a little LESS cmplicated…  but that would be so dull!!  I love the fact that my family is diverse and celebrates each part of our history, no matter how small a percentage we may actually be.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has always made an effort to make each holiday special… and St. Paddy’s Day was no exception.  She carried on many traditions, including making corned beef and cabbage for dinner and blarney stones for dessert.  As a baker myself, I strive to make connections between my heritage and the baking realm… and through the years I have grown to love the tradition of Irish Soda Bread!

Traditionally, Irish Soda Bread was a poor man’s bread.  It is made with the most basic ingredients that are also quite inexpensive… flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk (also known as soured milk).  Baking soda is used as the leaven in this recipe instead of yeast; making this a quick and easy bread to throw together in a pinch.  Also, traditional irish soda bread is made in a round shape with a scored “x” on the top (to ward off the evil spirits)… learning about these faith-based rituals is quite fun for me (I’m sure Hot Crossed Buns have a similar meaning, being popular during the Easter season).  Through the years, there have been additions to this classic bread that, in my opinion, only enhance the flavor!  The recipe I’d like to share with you is more of a sweet bread; perfect by itself and for anytime of the day.  I just know you will fall in love with this recipe and will feel comfortable making it in your own home to celebrate the day… because hey, everyone’s a little Irish on St. Paddy’s Day!  😉

Sweet Irish Soda Bread 

 1 Cup Raisins (150 g)

1 Cup Dried Cherries (125 g)

3 Cups Flour

1 Cup Sugar

1 Tbsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Salt

¼ Cup Shortening

1/12 Cups Almond Milk

2 Eggs, slightly beaten

Sugar in the Raw (for sprinkling on top)

Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to boil. Add raisins and cherries and continue to boil for 3 minutes (this will plum the dried fruit a bit). Drain and lightly coat with flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add shortening and use your CLEAN fingers to blend ingredients together until well incorporated. Stir in milk and eggs until fully moistened.  Finally, fold in dried fruit mix until evenly mixed.

Pour batter into a well greased and floured loaf pan and sprinkle generously with sugar in the raw.  Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing bread from pan.

Enjoy!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day… and, Happy Baking!

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