Irish bread has twist on traditional recipe

  • JudyRae Kruse / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, March 16, 2004 9:00pm
  • Life

Top o’ the mornin’! And may the wee folk deal well with you today, bringing love, luck and joy.

That said, I have to say that never, ever — not in my childhood American-Irish neighborhood, nor anywhere in my Irish travels — have I ever heard someone say "Top o’ the mornin’."

Actually, factually, St. Patrick’s Day was a nonevent in my neighborhood. There were no pots of corned beef and cabbage a-bubbling, nor soda bread a-baking.

Of course, yes, we did have corned beef. At our house, at least. Daddy bought it at a kosher butcher shop in downtown Seattle, and Mama baked it. It was rosy, juicy, succulent and just about melted in our mouths.

A far cry from the stuff — no matter what brand — we bring home from the store to the kitchen today.

And the cabbage — forget it. Daddy wouldn’t eat it. He called it cub-bodge, and felt it should only be used as hog feed. Which pretty much ruled out that Irish classic, colcannon.

We ate our mashed potatoes plain, not fancy, with just butter, salt and pepper.

On the upside of the Irish thing, though, Mama did shape the leftover spuddies into patties, and we had them fried for breakfast, along with the usual bacon, sausage or ham, eggs and toast. So I guess we still qualified as somewhat Irish.

Ah, but some of us Irish folk also make bread. And not just the white, raisin-studded stuff so prevalent nowadays. Irish soda bread, it’s called. My recipe, though complete with the baking soda and buttermilk, is different.

It harks back to the days when young Kansas farm girl Lucy Fullen took over the job of raising her little brother and twin sisters, taking care of their Poppy — back to an age of a freezing-cold or sweltering-hot, before-dawn-to-dark stint in a prairie kitchen over a wood cookstove, stoking and cooking and cooking and stoking.

To the days, eventually, when Lucy Fullen became a "hired girl" in the same freezing cold winters and fry-your-brains summers at the Hardesty family home in Jennings, Kan.

Lucy was my beloved grandmother. She was the best. I still miss her, and you know what? I always will. But I digress … Gram and I sometimes spread this bread with margarine (she let me smash and squish up those wonderful, incredible bags of stuff with the pop-the-button coloring), and then topped it with honey or molasses.

Let me share:

Lucy Fullen <


Hardesty’s <


Irish bread

4 1/2cups white flour (shake a little off the top, to make it a bit less)

2teaspoons baking soda

1teaspoon sugar

2teaspoons salt

1 2/3cup crushed whole-bran cereal

2 1/2cups buttermilk

Dump flour, baking soda, sugar and salt into big strainer; shake into big mixing bowl. Pour in the cereal, and stir it around good. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until the dry ingredients are wet. Flour your hands and press the dough into a greased 5-inch by 9-inch loaf pan. Bake at about 350 degrees 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Makes one loaf. Nice served with real butter and honey or molasses.

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