Hidden Shamrock Irish Soda Bread
Traditional Irish soda bread just got a lot more fun with this hidden shamrock version. I’m not even Irish nor do I join in the festivities of St. Patricks day but this peek-a-boo pound cake soda bread is a reason to celebrate.
I had to wiki Irish Soda Bread because I wasn’t aware of it’s history or why we see it every year in grocery stores and bakeries around St. Patricks Day. There doesn’t seem to be any specific relationship between soda bread and St. Patricks Day other than being Irish. It seems Soda bread is just one of the most famous Irish specialties so what better time to eat it than an Irish holiday. Of course, Classic Irish Soda bread is now even more fun with this hidden burst of green shamrock.
Surprisingly, I used two classic recipes to make this soda bread creation. For the pound cake shamrock center, I used a melting tea cake recipe from “The Art of Fine Baking,” by my grandmother Paula Peck. The traditional soda bread recipe is from “Beard on Bread,” by James Beard. I’m not sure what they would think of this creation. Would they be impressed by the creativity? Or offended by it’s lack of authenticity? We can only guess. I do know that these recipes worked famously together to make this peek-a-boo cake soda bread version that I’m excited to eat for breakfast every morning.
Believe it or not, this recipe is fairly easy. In general, Soda breads are simple and fast because they don’t require yeast. The leavening comes from the baking soda. Also, another short cut worth mentioning is to buy a simple pound cake or yellow cake mix from the store. It’s then just a matter of mixing, baking, and cutting the cake versus the few extra steps required for the melting tea cake. I personally prefer the tea cake because it’s slightly more dense and holds up well when the soda bread dough is wrapped around it. But either way, this Hidden Shamrock Irish Soda Breads is sure to get your St Patricks Day party started. Plus the kids will love it!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan. If using a cake mix, follow package instructions.
For the Melting Tea Cake:
Melt butter with vanilla and lemon zest in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave. Set aside.
Place eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat lightly to break up. Place the bowl over a saucepan of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch). Place saucepan over low heat and bring water to a simmer. Heat eggs, stirring frequently, until just slightly warmer than lukewarm. Remove from heat and beat eggs with an electric mixer until cool, thick, and tripled in bulk.
Sprinkle flour and cornstarch on top. Fold in gently, adding butter at the same time. Add food coloring. Continue folding until butter is just combined and the green color is even.
Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and loaf is slightly browned on top. Remove from oven and cool.
Slice poundcake in ½ slices. Using the cookie cutter, cut shamrock shapes out of the slices. Set aside.
Make the soda bread:
Increase heat of oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine dry ingredients and orange zest in a large bowl. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough but firm enough to hold its shape. Knead in raisins or currants.
Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Flatten dough into a large rough disc, about 1-inch thickness. Line pound cake shamrocks upside down but vertically (back to back) in the center of the disc. Make sure there is enough dough on either of the shamrocks to cover them. Fold the dough flaps over the top of the shamrock slices. Push dough together to seal. Flip dough loaf over. Slice a cross on the top of the loaf. Bake 30-35 minutes or until brown and bread sounds like it’s hollow when tapped.