One of the highlights of working at Chesapeake Bay Magazine years ago, was Melanie’s wonderful daily treats during the production of the Boat Show issue. She was kind enough to share this great Sweet Irish Soda Bread recipe with Galley Pirates, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Her’s was the first I’d ever tasted. Have tasted others many times since, but still none compare.
Sweet Irish Soda Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup currants
2 tablespoons toasted caraway seeds
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon sanding or course raw sugar
* most galleys aren’t stocked with buttermilk, but you know the secret, right? Mix a tablespoon of vinegar into a cup of milk and let stand for a few minutes as it thickens up.
Preheat your galley oven to about 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt and mix well. Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Using your fingers, fork or a pastry cutter work the cold butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the egg, buttermilk, currants and caraway seeds and mix into the flour mixture.
Below is a photo of caraway seeds, regular and black caraway. They have completely different flavors. The regular caraway seeds are far more pungent. That’s what Aquavit is made from. (but a far different ethnicity than today’s Irish feast.) I decided to use a tablespoon of each.
Once the dough is well mixed it is to be turned out onto a a floured surface (not the chart table, as tempting as it is!) and gently kneaded. Unfortunately I was out of flour at this point so I skipped this step — but it still turned out great!
Place the dough into a greased pan. I like to use cast iron pans in a galley oven to keep the bottom from burning. The flame in galley stoves typically sits so close to the rack it’s easy to burn your baked goods using conventional bread pans. Pour melted butter on pot and sprinkle with raw sugar. Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Let set for a few minutes before slicing. For an added treat serve with Irish coffee.
May the winds of fortune sail you,
May you sail a gentle sea.
May it always be the other guy
who says, “this drink’s on me.”