I am not Irish. Not even one-sixteenth. My hair is extremely red but extremely fake, and the closest my ancestors ever came to Eire was Sweden. So it seems fitting that my St. Patrick’s Day dish is not particularly faithful to traditional Irish soda bread. I’ve made authentic soda bread before, with little more than flour and buttermilk, but that was pre-Especially Edible. And in the world of food blogs, a lack of photographs mean it may as well have never happened. So all I have to offer is what we’ll call an “adaptation” of the old Irish recipe: Muffins instead of a round loaf, raisins instead of currants, no caraway seeds at all, an egg that sort of came out of nowhere. I like to think the heart of soda bread – using baking soda as a leavener rather than yeast – is what really matters. And in that regard, at least, my muffins are authentic, though they do have a dash of baking powder in addition to the traditional baking soda. (I should note here that I spent five minutes on Wikipedia trying to figure out if it was baking soda or baking powder before realizing that it’s called . . . soda bread. Hey, I never claimed to be an Einstein.)
Next year I’d like to try something more adventurous – Guinness cupcakes with Bailey’s frosting, maybe. (And in fact I do have some photographs of Guinness brownies waiting in the wings for you.) I’ve watched enough episodes of “Cupcake Wars” to know you can’t just smear frosting on top of a muffin anymore. It has to be piped, pretty, and swirly, even if it’s just for some two-year-old’s birthday party that he’ll never even remember. I’m looking forward to a cupcake decorating class at Joann next month, at which they’ll probably successfully pitch me a set of Wilton decorating tips.
My soda bread muffins look very humble next to some of the ridiculous cupcake creations on Food Network. But they tasted good, they took approximately ten minutes to make – cut the butter into the dry ingredients in a food processor, then dump in the buttermilk – and they’re at least a little Irish.