Saturday, March 15, 2014

Norah's Irish Soda Bread

St Paddy's Day is a big holiday in the Moran household.  Every year, we cook at least 5-6 corned beef briskets, boil 10 pounds of potatoes and 4 heads of cabbage.  We place our Italian heritage to the side for the day and celebrate the Irish.  After all, the family name is "Moran" and always will be.

My father-in-law Harry introduced me to the St Paddy's day menu.  Back then, he also included corned spare ribs and corned pig's head.  So delicious...... but so difficult to find today.  We used to drink "green" beer on tap, "muddle" our cup of Irish coffee and sing songs around the table.  Those were some of the best days of my life and I miss him so much.

I did my best to learn how to prepare the St Paddy's Day feast and incorporated it into the Mancuso's list of favorite holidays.  St Paddy's Day was actually my dad's favorite meal. He couldn't wait until March 17th rolled around every year.  He'd even come to the table wearing green. (My mom, of course, always insisted on bringing a little something.....usually, eggplant parmigiana)

Actually, the previous story has nothing to do with Norah's Irish soda bread recipe but it's why it was so important to get it.  My Aunt Jean had a elderly neighbor in East Flatbush who made the best Irish soda bread.  Her neighbor, Norah, would bake my aunt a loaf every year but wouldn't share the recipe. (It was a family secret)  Norah lived alone in a big old corner house and my Uncle Sam would help her out with snow removal, etc whenever he could.  Long story short, when my aunt and uncle sold their house and were moving to Gravesend, Norah came over with tears in her eyes and handed her the recipe.
That was 37 years ago.  I've been baking it every year since then. I'm not a big fan of commercial soda bread. It's very dry, crumbly and heavy.  Norah's version is moist, easy to slice and so delicious.  Give it a try this year and ..... May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Norah's Irish Soda Bread
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tbs melted margarine or butter
  • 1 tbs caraway seeds
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, add eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Mix well with a large spoon.   Grease a round pan or loaf pan, dust with flour and pour in batter.  If desired, lightly dust the top of the batter with a little flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Test with a toothpick when done to ensure that bread is done.

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