On St. Patrick’s Day we tend to celebrate the great Emerald Isle in a fashion that is, well, unabashedly American—dying the Chicago river green and pinching those who fail to don themselves in the color. But some classic Irish traditions still survive on American soil and have simply matured with the passing of time. That is the case for the celebratory Irish soda bread, spotted dog and railway cake recipes of today.
Traditional Irish soda bread has been around since the mid 19th century and is a simple combination of flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Yeast was hard to find in rural Ireland and bicarbonate (baking soda) was a worthy rising agent replacement. The result was a simple and light bread with a slight soda taste.
This simple bread has bore many sweet counterparts since, the spotted dog and railway cake being the most popular. While nuts, dried fruits, butter and sugar wouldn’t have been added to the traditional mix a hundred years ago, today we love using them to enhance our St. Patrick’s Day soda breads with touches of sweetness.
Make some lads and lasses very happy this St. Patrick’s Day with our soda breads below.
—By Emily Arno