Irish memories

A couple of days late for St. Patrick’s Day, but heck, time flies when you’re drinking Guinness.

Winter 1979 I hitchhiked through Ireland with a couple of friends. We stayed in youth hostels and visited Dublin, Bray, Wicklow, Waterford and Blarney. While walking through one of the villages an old woman, standing outside her cottage asked us if we were Americans. When replied in the affirmative, she insisted we come inside for tea.

It seemed strange that she invited us for tea but had us make the tea and cut the bread. But she was pretty old…

Anyway the bread was delicious and we asked if she’d tell us how to make it. I wrote it down, and then found a very similar recipe in a book I had, so this is a combination of the two recipes.

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
½ cup currants
2 eggs
½ cup butter
1 cup milk

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Sprinkle a little over the currants and raisins. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (I use a food processor), then add beaten eggs and the milk. Mix in currants and raisins.

Turn onto floured board and mold into round loaf. Place in greased spider (black iron skillet) and bake 1 hour in oven at 350°.

Please note – this is a sweet bread, not a traditional soda bread, but it is more authentic than the soda breads I’ve purchased.

We pretty much lived on bread, eggs and Orange Squash during our week in Ireland. None of us had much money – in fact I returned to London with only a few dollars left. I returned to the states with less than a dollar to my name.

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