This is an easy bread that does not require yeast. It’s a dense loaf, filled with currants, or raisins. The directions are authentic; I found them in my 1976 Catholic Daughter’s Cookbook. Make this when you are alone because prayers are required. And I think they’re best said out loud.
Recently as I was leaving our church, a woman was sitting alone praying aloud, imploring God. I had to smile because I think God hears us best when we pray aloud. Yes, we listen for him as a “still quiet voice” but we’ve got a lot of competition for his attention.
One recent example comes to mind: I was running late for daily noon Mass. I pulled into a parking spot but couldn’t get my key out of the ignition. I’m mechanically incompetent, so my impatience grew quickly. I wiggled things and jiggled keys and sat a moment in frustration. Finally, I burst out, “Lord, I know you want me to celebrate Mass, please help me!” Instantly, my hand spasmed and knocked the gear shift…which allowed the key to come out. I don’t know whether it was God who helped me or an on duty angel, but I was delighted to grab my keys and be on my way. Ever since I’ve practiced “praying out loud” when I need to get God’s attention.
Note: I used golden raisins, which I think are sweeter than the dark colored raisins.
Ingredients for Irish Soda Bread
3 ½ cups flour
1 scant TBS baking soda
2 TBS sugar
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 ½ cups dried currants or raisins
2 TBS melted butter
3 drops Holy Water in honor of the Trinity – optional for non Catholics
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
Add the buttermilk and currants and mix with a spoon until blended.
Next knead on a floured board until smooth. (Directions request you say three Hail Mary’s and three Our Father’s for the Poor Souls. Even if you use a dough hook on your mixer, you’ll have time to say the prayers.)
Shape the dough into a ball and press it to a size of about 7-9 inches across. (You could put it into a round cake pan, a spring form pan or even a casserole dish. Mine should have been patted down further, as it was too dense.)
Using a sharp knife cut a cross in the top of the dough, about 1/4 inch deep.
Sprinkle with Holy Water – optional for non Catholics.
Bake 35 – 45 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped with a wooden spoon.
Remove to a rack to cool.
Brush with melted butter.
Best served warm with butter and honey or maple syrup.
Indulge in this Irish treat. Because there’s no yeast, it goes together in minutes and as a bonus you have built in prayer time as you knead.