Stepping Out

Savor the flavor of St. Patrick’s Day

Spring forth by donning some green


Spring is in our sights and we’re sure ready for its embrace. The arrival of St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday always is a welcome harbinger of the season. Enjoy some of the lively parades nearby, even a concert, and certainly bring St. Patrick’s Day into your home with some tasty Irish cuisine. Favorites include corned beef and cabbage, and, of course, soda bread.

Classic Irish Soda Bread
• 3 cups pastry flour blend or unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• Heaping 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup currants or raisins
• 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional
• 1 large egg
• 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
• 4 tablespoons butter, melted

• 1 tablespoon milk
• 1 tablespoon coarse white sparkling sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the pastry blend or flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants, and caraway seeds.

In a separate bowl, or in a measuring cup, whisk together the egg and buttermilk (or milk and yogurt).

Quickly and gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the melted butter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Draw your finger around the edge of the pan to create a “moat.” Drizzle the bread with the 1 tablespoon of milk; the moat will help prevent the milk from running down the sides of the loaf. Sprinkle with the coarse sugar.

Bake the bread for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean; the interior of the bread will measure 200°F to 210°F on a thermometer.

Remove the bread from the oven, loosen its edges, and after five minutes turn it out onto a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap airtight and store at room temperature.

Serve with hot tea and organic jam, Irish stew, traditional Irish cabbage dishes, or enjoy on its own!

Savory Irish Cheese Soda Bread
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons caraway seed
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, ground
• 1/2 cup shredded Irish Cheddar cheese
• 2 eggs
• 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and seasonings in large bowl. Stir in cheese. Set aside. Mix eggs and buttermilk in medium bowl. Add to dry ingredients; stir until well blended. Spread in lightly grease 9-inch round cake pan.

Bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Tip: Make muffins instead of bread. Prepare dough as directed and divide among 12 greased muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins
• 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 cups currants (first choice) or raisins
• 1/2 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, to taste
• 1 large egg
• 1 cup buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
• 6 tablespoons butter, melted; or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• sparkling white sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan; or line with papers, and grease the papers.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants or raisins, and caraway seeds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk (or equivalent) and melted butter (or equivalent).

Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients; honestly, this won’t take more than a few stirs with a bowl scraper or large spoon. As soon as everything is evenly moistened, quit; further stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full; the stiff batter will look mounded in the cups. Top with sparkling white sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don’t get soggy. Wait five minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool. Serve them plain, or with butter and/or jam.