St. Patrick's Day conjures images of leprechauns and the Chicago river dyed green for the masses, but the holiday has deeper traditions for the Irish. Sure, pints of Guinness and corned beef are still go-tos, but those loyal to Ireland will probably be making an Irish Soda Bread recipe as part of their St. Patty's celebration this year, too. What's the point of celebrating without the classic quick bread on the table?
Irish Soda Bread is a traditional Irish dish, marked by an "x" atop the bread that "folks did... to 'let the devil out' while it's baking for good luck," according to Kitchen Project. The bread has a long history with St. Patrick's day, though it doesn't date back to the life of St. Patrick himself, who was born around 400 A.D. according to USA Today. My Recipes reports the Irish staple was invented sometime during the 1830s, as a result of the introduction of baking soda to the U.K. and the "financial strife" in Ireland at the time that made food that required minimal ingredients attractive. (The potato famine was a yikes all around.)
The dish is traditionally super low-maintenance; flour, baking soda, milk, and salt are all that is required to make a basic version. Now, it's common to see soda bread on March 17 dinner tables because of the tradition — and probably because people believe the myth that carbs will soak up excess whiskey after partying a little too hard in St. Patty's honor. But commitment to the traditional bread is strong across the pond outside of the holiday; there's actually a Society For The Preservation For Irish Soda Bread. Who knew?
Despite the long history, recipes have evolved since the first iterations of the treat, and Honest and Truly's Irish Soda Bread recipe provides an ideal twist on the classic. The recipe is passed down from Honest and Truly's Michelle's grandfather, and it creates a sweet no-yeast bread that requires only 15 minutes of prep and an hour of cook time. Michelle adds raisins to her recipe, which gives the dish texture that combines with the sweetness of the bread for a refreshing treat you can eat as a dessert, snack, or even breakfast. The bread is still steeped in tradition, but the raisins will make it feel fresh even if you've been making Soda Bread for years.
Plus, Michelle has one extra tip up her sleeve to make the Irish Soda Bread extra yummy: She tops her creation with butter. Michelle's family swears by the combination, with the recipe calling for buttering the entire top of the loaf when it comes out of the oven. Bread and butter for the sake of tradition sounds like heaven to me.
If this sounds like something your fam can get on board with, you can check out the full recipe on Honest and Truly as you start planning your St. Patrick's Day menu. The recipe makes two loaves of bread, so you'll definitely have enough if you're trying to feed a crowd. My one request for you, though: please don't dye it green. Some things are sacred, and bread is one of them. Happy St. Patricks Day!