Mom’s Irish Soda Bread

Growing up, Saint Patrick’s Day was one of my favorite holidays. We made Irish soda bread, had corned beef and cabbage, and I got to wear cute green socks, shamrock tattoos on my cheeks, and other fun things. Then, in college, I attended the Scranton parade every year – a true showing of debauchery. And now that I spend most of my time in the kitchen, I was able to try my hand at Irish soda bread, without the help of my mom.

Both of my parents are mostly Irish, my father’s grandparents being immigrants (it goes back a bit further on my mom’s side). It’s no secret I’m Irish – my hair is dark with hints of red and curly, I freckle as soon as my skin sees the sun, and I “tan” red (aka not at all). No one in my family has brown eyes, and in keeping with the stereotypes, I love potatoes and beer. Though my taste buds have changed and I don’t enjoy corned beef, I do still love boiled cabbage, especially when it’s colcannon.

For the average person, Irish soda bread might seem a little bland. But the Irish weren’t ever really known for their flavorful foods. I personally love it, especially when it’s warmed up with some butter. The best part is that because it makes such a large loaf, there’s plenty left over to enjoy for breakfast, or as a snack.

I wound up bringing a loaf to work and everyone loved it! I always feel so accomplished when a large group tries something I’ve made and they have rave reviews. In addition to my soda bread there were green cupcakes, and a giant cookie cake with a shamrock on it. I’m happy to report that my bread was finished first!

This is the recipe that my mom has been following for years. I can’t remember it ever being any different. Although a few times she tried to sneak in some caraway seeds (I’m not a fan). I’m thinking maybe I won’t wait until next March 17th to make this again…

Irish Soda Bread
– makes one loaf –

2 Cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 Cup softened butter (half the stick)
3/4 Cup rasins
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 Cup buttermilk
1 egg slightly beaten with 1 tbsp water

1. Sift flower sugar baking powder, soda and salt into large mixing bowl. Cut in butter until like coarse meal.
2. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Add buttermilk, mix to moisten the dry ingredients.
3. Put onto floured surface and knead for several minutes until smooth.
4. Form dough into round ball place on greased baking sheet. Flatten ball until about 1/2 inch high
5. Brush top and sides with egg/water mixture. Cut a 1/2 inch deep cross in top.
6. Bake at 375 degree for 30-40 min. or until toothpick comes out clean
7. Cool on wire rack. Brush top with butter, or serve butter alongside the bread

Alcohol Infused Cupcakes: Do I have a problem?

This has now been the sixth alcohol infused dessert I’ve made this year. First there was Guinness cupcake with Bailey’s buttercream, another cupcake with just the Bailey’s, jello shot cupcakes, Kahlua and espresso chocolate chip cookies, and rum & coke brownies. And now? Pina Colada cupcakes! I actually got this recipe off Betty Crocker’s website, but made some tweaks to turn the rum extract into, well, regular rum.

Making an alcohol infused dessert really works well when you’re going to a party, I think. Most people bring either a food item, or some type of alcohol. So, why not bring both, together?! My fiancé and I decided to have a wedding party BBQ, so everyone from both of our sides could get together, hang out, and get to know each other more. The wedding isn’t until next September, but we figured since we recently procured a grill (thanks mom & dad!), and hadn’t had a party in a few months, it was the perfect opportunity. I also made a batch of regular chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and a layer of chunky peanut butter in between the cake and frosting. Yeah, they were good too.

They wound up being a little smaller, just below the cupcake liners. So, I had to load on the frosting, which everyone at the party appreciated. Since my pastry bag broke, I’ve resorted to using a smaller and regular sized spoon to do my swirling. Not bad, but not great either. I also had some leftover crushed pineapple, so I threw that in some Tupperware with regular and flavored rum and let it soak together for a few hours. It came in handy later in the night for a wedding party toast/shot!

For now, I’ll just chalk my love of boozy desserts up to being Irish 😉

Pina Colada Cupcakes
– 24 cupcakes –

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon rum extract*
1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
3 eggs
1 teaspoon coconut extract*
1 teaspoon rum extract*
1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker® Whipped vanilla frosting
3/4 cup shredded coconut

1. Heat oven to 375°F (350°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. In large bowl, beat cake mix, oil, water, 1 teaspoon rum extract, the pineapple and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
2. Bake 14 to 19 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
3. Stir coconut extract and 1 teaspoon rum extract into frosting. Spread frosting on cupcakes. Dip tops of frosted cupcakes in coconut. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

*instead of using rum extract and coconut extract, I substituted both for some Admiral Nelson coconut rum. I’d imagine any flavored rum would work well!