Iced Irish Soda Bread
With Raisins, Golden Raisin and a Hint of Orange
Irish Soda Bread originated in the Emerald Isle as a humble bread with minimal and simple ingredients. It was said that a cross was made with a knife in the center of the uncooked loaf to bless the bread and pricks were made in all four sections to let the fairies out. The cross was really to let the heat get into the center of the dough when cooked in the hearth, but it has become a stylization through the years.
We Americanized the Irish soda bread and made it less dry by adding a variety of ingredients like raisins, butter, sugar, caraway seeds and the occasional measure of cranberries. In fact, we Americanized St. Patrick’s Day itself. Originally, Ireland had regarded St. Patrick’s Day as a solemn holy day. It was required that Catholics attend mass in order to honor Patrick of Briton on March 17, the day of his death in 461 AD.
Patrick was a Roman Briton who had been captured at the age of 16 by Irish pirates and forced into slavery. He escaped, only to return to educate and convert many of the pagan people of Ireland to Christianity. It is said that he also found time to shoo the snakes out of the country whilst making conversions.
Our version of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday evolved slowly through Irish immigrants that arrived in America, who first celebrated by feasting and beer drinking. Now it is an all out celebration with Irish soda bread, wearing of the green, beer, corned beef and cabbage, parties and parades.
In fact many people have traveled to Ireland thinking they would find an even more hyped up and glorified celebratory version of St. Patrick’s Day, but to their dismay, they instead found the day to be quite the contrary. It was solemn, with no special food or green clothes anywhere. It was actually the American tourists who encouraged Ireland to realize capital gains were to be acquired and Irish people might really procure a pot of gold whilst celebrating. St. Patrick’s Day became a four day affair of revelry, festivities, parades and feasting in order to accommodate the great waves of tourism.
The Gourmet Goddess enjoys every celebration and for Saint Patrick’s day and has made an amped up version of an Irish Soda Bread. It boasts of a combination of raisins, golden raisins and grated orange rind, enhanced and dripping with a delicious vanilla icing.
This is not the wimpy little bread you find at the supermarket. Originally Irish Soda breads were big in size, enough to serve the entire family for a couple days. The Gourmet Goddess maintained the size but added moisture and flavor. In fact, she had hard time trying to stop eating it at each meal it is so good. Serve it plain or add butter, orange marmalade or apricot preserves to enhance its goodness.
Always Stay in Touch with Your Inner Goddess!
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups of Heckers Unbleached Flour (extra for tossing raisins and dusting pastry board)
1 teaspoon Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
5 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Butter chilled and cubed
1 Large Egg room temperature lightly whisked.
1 ¾ cup Buttermilk (best to make your own since store bought is low fat. Simply use 1 ¾ cup Whole Milk and add 1 ¾ tablespoons white vinegar. Let stand 5 minutes.)
1 ½ teaspoons *Fresh* Orange Zest (about 1 navel orange, not pith)
¾ cup Sun Maid Raisins (toss with an additional ¾ tablespoon flour)
1/3 cup Yellow Raisins
2 ¼ cups Domino Confectioners Sugar
¼ teaspoon Salt
¾ teaspoon Light Corn Syrup
½ teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
3 ounces Whole Milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add vinegar to milk. Set aside.
Grate orange rind.
Measure out raisins and yellow raisins and toss with the extra flour.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in mixer.
Cube butter into mixture and using the paddle attachment, turn on the very lowest setting until butter and flour mixture form very small coarse crumbs.
Combine egg, buttermilk and orange rind. Add to flour.
When all combined, turn out onto well-floured board. Knead in raisins.
Dust your hands with flour (this dough is supposed to be very moist) and knead dough until you are able to keep a round shape. You may have to dust your hands frequently.
Place onto parchment lined baking sheet.
Dip the back of a large knife into flour and press (not cut) a cross.
Place in the oven for approximately 30-35 minutes as bottom becomes slightly golden. Do not over bake.
An inserted toothpick should come out clean.
Leave it on sheet ten minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool.
Frost once fully cool.
Mix Confectioners, sugar, salt and vanilla.
Slowly add milk until desired consistency is achieved. Do not make it too thin.
Drizzle over bread. Use a large Pyrex measuring cup, with a pour spout, and slowly push it out moving back and forth over the bread.
Serve the first day for optimum freshness. Bread may be stored for 4 days in a plastic container.