This humble bread has been part of our Irish heritage for at least 180 years, it requires nothing more than four simple ingredients, a hot oven and a little time. It reminds me of my mother, shaping it on our counter top at home before baking it in the solid fuel cooker, then afterwards enjoying it at tea time warm from the oven, slathered with butter and maybe a little jam.
My father remembers his mother making it over the open fire in the griddle -traditional three legged pot with a lid - which sat over the open flames suspended by an iron arm, the lid of the griddle in place, covered with hot coals, an ingenious way of cooking the top and bottom of the soda bread simultaneously. He also remembers this as the method for making "Griddle Bread" or "Soda Farls" essentially the same recipe executed slightly differently.
This is a quick bread, requiring very little input from us, no yeast, kneading, rising or proving just a little stirring and then a hot oven to finish off our labours. The addition of raisins changes the purpose of the bread, it goes from something that can be enjoyed with cheese to what we would call a "Tea Bread" which is more than suitable for guests and the table bedecked with silver butter dishes, cups, saucers and good silverware, but it is just as acceptable for the rough and tumble of a family tea time!
Enjoy this St. Patricks Day and why not have it with a piece of Irish Tradition on your table.