So apparently today is St. Patrick’s Day. Where I grew up, St. Patrick’s Day was barely even mentioned – you were supposed to wear green to school to avoid being pinched but that was it. Then I moved to New York City, aka a city with a St. Patty’s Day parade, and St. Patrick’s Day has become One of the Worst Days of the Year – at least it is if you’re trying to get anywhere in midtown Manhattan.
That damn parade can mess up a commute like nobody’s business. Last year I had to walk an extra four blocks (yes I counted) and take an extra twenty minutes I didn’t have to spare to get around the roadblocks and fight through the crowds. I got so annoyed that I found myself inwardly fuming about why we are celebrating a country that has been so historically backwards about marriage equality and birth control. I got myself so worked up I had to go play with kittens to calm down (true story, I used to volunteer at an animal shelter).
In my purely personal opinion, the one redeeming quality of St. Patrick’s Day for those of us living in A City with a Parade who don’t identify with the Irish spirit is soda bread. I never had this as a kid, probably because no one in Dallas suburbs seemed to give a rat’s backside about the holiday, but I’m extremely happy to have discovered it in adulthood.
Soda bread seems to be the cause of many arguments – do you put raisins in there or not, that kind of thing – but it seems that most can and will happily forgive a little “experimentation” if the spirit of soda bread is left alone. I found this recipe for adding cheddar and dill – I made sure I used a good Irish cheddar – and everyone seemed to love it. It may not be completely authentic, but it’s delicious!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day if you celebrate it, and for the rest of us, may we not get pinched, trampled, or too inconvenienced by parades. Enjoy!
Source: The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 ½ cups buttermilk
1 large egg
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
1 ¼ cups shredded sharp Irish cheddar, divided
Preheat your oven to 350 F and generously grease a 12” cast iron skillet with cooking spray or softened butter.
Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Combine the butter, buttermilk, and egg in another bowl and whisk well.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. The dough will be sticky. Stir in the dill and 1 cup cheese. Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet, smoothing the top but mounding it slightly in the center with lightly floured hands. Cut a large X about 1 inch deep in the center of the dough, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of all four quarters.
Bake the bread in the center of the oven for 70 to 75 minutes, or until the crust is browned and a toothpick or cake tester in inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the bread in the skillet for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.