3.09.2019

Sláinte!


When I met Markipedia, he used to raise his glass and say, “Sláinte va!” which he knew was a toast, but not whence it came, other than from an anthropologist friend.

One of our multilingual friends once told him it was Russian, but we are pretty sure she was thinking, “Nasdarovje.” They sound enough alike, right? Not so much; maybe it was just Mark’s pronunciation?

But the toast “sláinte” is actually an Irish Gaelic toast to “good health. “Sláinte va” is the Scottish Gaelic version, and with this revelation, Mark recalled that his anthropologist's friend’s heritage was Scottish.

Now that we are settled there, let’s talk about Irish soda bread. After all, it’s March and St. Patrick’s Day looms.

I never much liked soda bread when I was growing up... it was always dry and generally flavorless, with too strong a flavor of baking soda.

Then, when dining with our friends Anne and Vance, Anne served Vance’s Cousin Margaret’s Irish Bread and my mind was changed.

This has to be the most flavorful and moist bread I have had, and I am grateful to Cousin Margaret (and Anne and Vance) for the recipe.

You will be grateful, too!

Sláinte!

~ David

Cousin Margaret’s Irish Bread

1 cup raisins
1 cup currants
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
l to 11/2 cups of milk
1 egg (beaten)
3/4 cup butter, melted *


* Cousin Margaret used margarine.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the raisins and currants in warm water** for about 15 minutes to soften, then drain them. Mix the dry ingredients and add the raisins. Then add 1 cup milk, the egg and melted butter – you may have to add a little more milk to make a stiff dough.

Turn dough onto the counter and knead to form cake to fit into a greased 10-inch casserole or round baking pan. Your pan or casserole should be about 2 to 3 inches high. I used a springform pan

“Prick” the bread all over with a fork or knife before putting it in the oven.

Bake about 50 minutes or until golden on top.

Makes 1 10-inch loaf.

**
I am not averse to soaking them in some Irish whiskey…



37 comments:

  1. Must try this recipe after a trip to Penzys. I had no idea it was so easy. I have been getting 2 or 3 loaves at Beyond Bread every March - eating a piece of it toasted now.

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    1. You will love this version, Jill... and it is very easy!

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  2. Well, may I add 'nasdarovje' to 'slainte' to celebrate a recipe . . . with the possible exception of cumin seeds this bread is made and enjoyed in all the Baltics and as much of Russia as I know ) ! Well, in March we'll celebrate with the Irish . . . !

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    1. I didn’t know that this bread was made in the Baltics - very fun to know how global foods are!

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  3. This may be the year I give soda bread a try. I've never eaten nor made it before! GREG

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  4. Each time I spy the soda bread at one of our local farmers' markets, I momentarily think to make it myself someday. That day has never come. Maybe seeing yours will spur me on!

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    1. Definitely worth trying this version, John... it may ruin you for others, though!

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  5. I can see right away the similarity to the French word 'santé'(health)! This is an interesting recipe- who would have thought the Irish would use cumin in their bread? It's a fascinating world!

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    1. Once I saw how sláinte was spelled, I saw the French connection, as well. But never from the pronunciation!

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  6. David, I haven't had Irish soda bread in ages and I certainly don't remember it looking this flavorful. You've got me with the combination of raisins, caraway, and cumin. Have to try it!

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    1. I think that is why I shied away from soda breads - generally they weren’t too flavorful. This one, however, is! I hope you make it, Kelly!

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  7. ...I love soda bread and I make it often. this looks super, I am only surprised to see cumin seeds, which in British baking is really seldom used. interesting, will check with my books. stefano

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    1. The cumin seed might have been Cousin Margaret’s special addition... I wondered if she mistook cumin seeds for caraway seeds and a new recipe was born! However it happened, it is the cumin that really makes this bread shine!

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    2. she might have been onto something: Elizabeth David herself has a sweet sweet bread and bun spice mix where she adds cumin, untraditional but delicious, she says (the bread book) - stefano

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    3. It really is delicious in this soda bread, Ste - you should try it!

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  8. Your nasdarovje looks quite delicious, David... especially like the little hints of spice and dried fruit. My experience with Irish soda bread hasn't endeared me to it, but I think I'd like this one very much.

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    1. I think you would like this bread, Frank - it is just sweet enough to make a nice dessert!

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  9. When we had our holidays in beautiful Scotland we had soda bread quite often and I am thankful very, very much for the recipe. Keeper, definitely !

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    1. Thanks, Davorka - I hope this bread brings back wonderful memories of your travels.

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  10. I used to make soda bread with my first graders. It was fun but it didn’t taste very good. Yours looks so much better.

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    1. The truly simple stuff is probably more traditional, Gerlinde, but it really didn't taste great! :)

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  11. “Sláinte va” is my dad's "go to" when drinking! He's not Scottish, we're just born there. :) Now onto that soda bread: it looks fabulous! I wanted to share a soda bread recipe for St Patrick's Day, but alas, not enough hours in the day/week/month/year!

    Yours is definitely a keeper! Thanks, David!

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    1. Thanks, Christina - I love "we're not Scottish, we're just born there!" :)

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  12. My grandmother made soda bread and like your early experiences, I found it tasteless and dry. I'm not a baker, but I'm going stir this one up. Perhaps it'll convert me. You can tell Mark, thanks for giving me a new word to use.

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    1. This really is a horse of a different color, Ron - enjoy!

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  13. I don't think you can go wrong with all of those flavorful spices that are included -- and the moist raisins an currants. Sounds like a delicious combination of flavors. I'd love a slice toasted with butter!

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    1. Toasted with butter sounds perfect, Valentina! I was too impatient and just ate it untoasted with butter! :)

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  14. Soda bread is good stuff -- we don't make it often, but always enjoy it when I do. Next time I'm trying your recipe (well, cousin Margaret's recipe). Love the idea of cumin in it!

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    1. I bet the cumin would make it pair nicely with one of your cocktails, John!

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  15. I am really liking the sound of those spices with the dried fruit. This is right up my street for something a bit different for breakfast!

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    1. It is good for breakfast, tea, or even as dessert!

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  16. David, this delicious version of Irish soda bread I would serve as dessert! My own recipe is savory and flavorful and not dry, but this version would really serve me well as a dessert because I don't like ooey-gooey desserts. Perfect with a cup of tea.

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    1. It does make a lovely dessert, Jean - finishes a meal nicely without being cloying.

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  17. I will have to try this David. I made Brown Soda Bread yesterday, but I actually ground up wheat berries and mixed multiple flours to try to simulate the "whole meal flour" it was made from in Ireland in the 70s. But I know I'd love the sweeter, dried fruit version too!

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  18. What a beautiful combination of flavours this soda bread has in it. Definitely one to try.

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