I love how kids with latch onto any old holiday. Between the classroom, television, and their own imaginations, I think they figure out pretty quickly that whatever the calendar’s special day, there just might be edible treats involved. A great example is St. Patrick’s Day, where families (like mine) without so much as a drop of Irish blood rise to the occasion and celebrate with all sorts of unique foods. Personally, I don’t think dyeing milk green and adding it to a bowl of Lucky Charms is quite the way to go.
While authentic Irish cuisine may not be well known, the Emerald Isle’s cuisine does include some tasty dishes that represent a far better way to lure your little leprechauns to the table, like this delicious, dense breakfast bread, which also goes by the amusing name of Spotted Dog, thanks to the raisins. Traditional Irish soda breads typically were made with fewer ingredients, out of necessity, but I’ve refreshed an old recipe to suit modern palates. Whether you enjoy it fresh out of the oven or lightly toasted, be sure to spread each slice generously with butter and jam for an authentic Irish taste experience.
* buttermilk substitute: 1 scant cup milk blended with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice or white vinegar
** cinnamon is not traditionally used in Irish soda bread, but it’s a very tasty addition here
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
Line a 9 x 5 inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper; set aside.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon (if using) and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one), cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the buttermilk until the mixture is well blended.
Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture and stir until just blended. Fold in raisins.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the highest part of the loaf comes out clean.
Makes 1 loaf which can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, or sliced and frozen for months.