Lucky Charm


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Remind me when I've had more coffee to talk about a neighborhood here in Long Beach that houses a group of transplanted Irish families that have lived in California since the 1970s. Remind me to write about coveting invitations to their homes for dinners and parties because it makes me feel like I'm with my large family, and also remind me to tell you the story of how my Irish elders beat me hands down in the game of dancing, drinking and laughing into the wee hours of the morning.

Just Remind me.

Lest you think I'm generalizing (because I am), I just want to make it clear that I adore the similarities between Irish family get-togethers and those of Mexican families. There's music, tons of aunts and uncles and cousins running underfoot, plenty of food and drink, and endless boisterous laughter. We get tequila, they get whiskey and beer. Sometimes we both mix it up and act a bit crazy. Ok, a LOT crazy. To me, the one biggest thread that seems to run between both of these events is the unspoken feeling of togetherness. It's that moment in time where we all revel in a shared experience, celebrating the bonds and unions of friends, family and generations.

Can you tell I miss my family back home or what????

St. Patrick's Day may be a few weeks away, but I'm all about starting my celebrations early. And especially since I'm not the world's best baker – I'm not even a decent one – I figure I'd give myself plenty of time to ruin perfect my soda bread recipe.

(Incidentally, the bread photographed above wasn't my own creation and contrary to some traditionalists it does contain currants, but I did take the photo and I did eat every last crumb.)

I'm not good at debating nor arguing when it comes to food; that's why you'll never* hear me fight over organic vs. conventional, vegan vs. animal products, etc. Food is a highly personal choice based on so many factors, who am I to say one way is better than another? There will be no diatribe about the authenticity of Irish Soda Bread here, heck, I'm not even Irish! With that said, here's a very basic recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine. Caraway seeds are a nice addition here but certainly not necessary.

Ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1 3/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Method
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet, knocking off excess flour.
Sift together 4 cups flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and stir in sugar, caraway, and raisins. Add buttermilk and stir just until dough is evenly moistened but still lumpy.

Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and gently knead with floured hands about 8 times to form a soft but slightly less sticky dough. Halve dough and form into 2 balls. Pat out each ball into a domed 6-inch round on baking sheet. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep X on top of each loaf with a sharp knife, then brush loaves with butter.

Bake in middle of oven until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to racks to cool completely.

Makes 2 (6-inch) loaves.


* The lone exception is BBQ. As a Texan, well, we do it best. I will hear of nothing else.


5 Responses to “Lucky Charm”

  1. Anonymous hd connelly 

    you made this Irish-grrl smile reading your descriptions of family get-togethers. I'd never thought of comparing the two, but having been lucky enough to enjoy both as well...you're right!

    Now I'm thinking about the first time I partied with my family in Ireland. A pub in Kilkenny...and at 12, it was the wildest party I'd ever seen!

  2. Anonymous Rosa 

    Your Irish soda bread sounds very appetizing and the picture is awsome!

    Thanks for linking me...

  3. Anonymous Monkey Gland 

    Yeah, those Irish know how to throw a party, though I tell you one thing the Scots will give em a run for their money! So mornings I wake up and I have a sneaking suspicion that I am still hungover from the New Years I spent in Edinburgh in 2001.

  4. Anonymous Michele 

    Unlike most Irish soda breads I have seen lately, yours has managed to avoid the trap of added eggs, butter, and large amounts of sugar that turn most American versions into something, well, American... (Although I would suggest trying it without the butter glaze -- you will get a thicker, chewy crust). I also make a brown soda bread and an oatmeal version that are called for long after St. Patrick's day. But you are missing one important step that will demonstrate your final inclusion into the soda bread baker's pantheon: After you make the cross on the top of the bread, you have to lightly poke each quadrant with the tip of your knife to let the faeries out!

  5. Blogger 日月神教-向左使 

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About me

  • I'm Matt Armendariz
  • From Los Angeles, California
  • A man with a passion for good food and a wonderful life with a dash of irreverence. Read at your own risk. Advertising director by day, wino by night. All photos on this site by Matt Armendariz.
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