In doing a little reading about Irish soda bread, I came upon the website for the “Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.” The name cracked me up. I think it was the image that did it: a secret society of somber men in robes, performing mysterious initiation rites with soda bread… like the Priory of Sion scenes from The Da Vinci Code, only with baked goods.
The website has lots of information about traditional Irish soda bread, including this tidbit right on the homepage:
If your “soda bread” has raisins, it’s not “soda bread! It’s called “Spotted Dog” or “Railway Cake”! If it contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar or shortening, it’s called “cake”, not “bread.” All are tasty, but not traditional Irish Soda Bread!
Now that’s passion! And a lot of exclamation points!!!
With the Society info in mind, I set off to find a loaf of this beloved Irish bread.
It wasn’t a long search. Kneaded Bread carried it, along with several other St. Patrick’s Day items.
I was worried they’d be out of the bread, but they had many loaves.
I also couldn’t resist picking up a corned beef sandwich from the refrigerator case. Normally I’m not a big fan of pre-packaged sandwiches, but this thing was fantastic: coleslaw from Q, thick slices of house-made corned beef, and sturdy, chewy slabs of rye bread that didn’t fall apart at the crusts like sometimes happens with rye.
As for the soda bread… well, take a look:
Aaagh, those are raisins! I immediately fired off an irate email to the Society, ratting out the Kneaded Bread. Kidding, I didn’t do that. But if their information is correct, then technically this would be considered Spotted Dog, Railway Cake, or Spotted Dick. (I wonder why that name hasn’t caught on in the States?)
I definitely tasted sugar and maybe some orange zest, and even though it’s called “bread,” including a savory component of caraway seeds, I almost consider it more of a dessert. Has a half bread, half cake quality to it.
Either way, whether this is true Irish soda bread or not, Kneaded Bread did a bang-up job, because their soda bread is addictive. I will be having a generous slice tomorrow morning with my breakfast.
And with that, happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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Port Chester, NY