Top O’ the Afternoon to ye! Or so I imagine that’s how a leprechaun would greet you. Today, as you know, is St. Patrick’s Day. It was orginally celebrated as the Catholic feast day for St. Patrick. Now it’s celebrated as a secular holiday honoring Irish culture. Although folks in the US have taken it on as an unofficial holiday, in 1903 St. Patrick’s Day became an official holiday in Ireland. I’m not sure how they celebrate it in Ireland, but in the US, we’ve taken it on as an excuse to have a party–which I like very much.
When I lived in New York City, I had a boss who took the day as his personal holiday. He was Irish, and he actually looked kind of like a leprechaun. He had a full head of brown hair, a button nose, a twinkle in his eyes, and a full beard. He was one of my most favorite bosses ever. Anyway, he took St. Patrick’s Day as a personal holiday and spent the whole day in his favorite pub. When we joined him at the end of the work day, he was, as you can imagine, three sheets to the wind. But, he was having a fabulous time.
As you know, green is to be worn on St. Patrick’s Day. When I was younger, you got a pinch from everyone if you didn’t wear green. I was interested to learn that blue used to be the color associated with St. Patrick. The story is that St. Patrick used a shamrock (a three-leafed plant) to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Catholic Irish people. Thus, over the years, because St. Patrick was associated with the shamrock, his official color evolved from blue to green. The “wearing of the green” originally meant wearing a shamrock on your clothing. When I was younger, the lore was that you were supposed to wear orange if you were “officially” Irish. I have no idea what that means. I have much Celtic blood running through my veins–I am Scottish on my mother’s side and Welsh on my dad’s side. I’m not sure if Irish is mixed in there somewhere. Whatever color our family is supposed to wear, Girlfriend managed to go to school today wearing no green, so she got a lot of pinches from her schoolmates.
Now, to the food. Irish soda bread–that ubiquitious raisin or currant-laden quick bread–has come to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day. In our house, we use a recipe that I got from a fellow preschool mom many years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t remember her name or where she got the recipe. I’m guessing it was from a newspaper somewhere. Regardless of where it came from, this loaf (adapted to gluten-free) is easy to make and is pleasantly sweet. It’s nice to eat slices of it toasted and slathered in butter. I’m guessing it’s not very authentic, but it’s yummy just the same!
Special Equipment Needed
-9×5 inch loaf pan
Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C. brown rice flour
1 1/4 C. white rice flour
1 C. tapioca flour
1 C. sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the bread)
3 C flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 TBL baking powder
2 TBL unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 large or extra large egg
2 C buttermilk, well-shaken
1 C dried currants (or raisins)
extra tapioca flour and melted butter for the pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour your pan with the additional tapioca flour and butter. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together your flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Rub butter pieces into this mixture with your fingers until the mixture resembles sand with pebbles.
Add the sugar, mix in well.
In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the buttermilk. Add this egg mixture to your butter-flour mixture. Mix with a large spoon until combined. Your dough will be thick but fluffy. Add the currants (or raisins). Mix well.
Turn batter out into your prepared pan. Smooth top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes–until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
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