Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio



Irish holiday calls for Irish food


Brown soda bread.


How many of these Irish foods have you tasted?

● Barm Bread: a fruit bread traditionally served at Hallowe'en;

● Boxty: a potato pancake;

● Champ: mashed potatoes with spring onions;

● Colcannon: mashed potatoes with greens (cabbage, kale);

● Irish Stew: a dish made with lamb or mutton, potatoes, and carrots.

My paternal grandmother was born and raised in County Cork, Ireland, so St. Patrick's Day is always celebrated at my house. (Of course, most food-related holidays are celebrated at my house.) Sure, I serve the ubiquitous corned beef and cabbage — it's not the same without them. But I also offer other dishes which are more traditionally Irish, as corned beef is actually an American approximation for the bacon that Irish immigrants would have served back home.

The Irish are especially noted for soda bread, a quick bread using baking soda as the leavener; a cross is cut into the top of the loaf both to allow the dough to expand while baking and also, in Catholic households, to invite blessing. Just in case you're wondering: My 86-year-old father, raised by his Irish mother, swears vehemently that caraway seeds do not belong in soda bread. And so, my recipe doesn't include them.

But I do know that "Ní lia duine ná barúil," in Gaelic, or that "There are as many people as opinions."


Brown Soda Bread

1-1/​2 cups white flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/​2 cup quick-cook oats

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 stick (1/​2 cup) butter, cold, cut into bits

1 cup raisins or dried cranberries

2-2/​3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425F. Sprinkle a bit of flour onto two baking sheets, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/​2 cup white flour, whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, salt, oats, and baking soda. Add the butter and mix it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles meal. Stir in the fruit and the buttermilk to form a wet dough.

Sprinkle half of the remaining flour onto the countertop, and knead it into the dough; repeat with the rest of the flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Divide dough in half and shape each half into an eight-inch round; place one dough round onto each of the prepared baking sheets. Slice an “X” into the top of the dough, and bake the breads for 30-35 minutes until they are golden brown. Let cool completely before serving.

Yield: Two loaves

Source: Mary Bilyeu

Contact Mary Bilyeu at
 or 419-724-6155 or on Twitter @foodfloozie.

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