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Somebody's Mom: Irish Soda Bread

Wake up to Irish Soda Bread, with Saint Patrick's Day coming soon.

There is only one person who I think of when I think of Irish Soda Bread. That person is Mrs. Hoey.  

The Hoey family moved into the house next door when I was 3 years old. Luckily, for me, they had a 3-year-old daughter, Maura, who became my best friend and still is to this day.  

Mrs. Hoey had tremendous patience for a very precocious little girl, namely me. Maura was a good kid, while I was a handful. Maura and I became inseparatable growing up together. We both have one older brother, so we bonded as girlfriends and as substitute sisters, but without the sibling competition.  

Maura would join my family for outings and boat rides. I would march in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade with her and her dad. We took Irish dancing lessons together and just shared each other’s lives.  

At one point I wanted to be Irish. That’s how much fun I was having with her family. But poor Mrs. Hoey, what I put her through. One time when I was with her, I ran in front of a bus. She nearly had a heart attack. Another time she took me with the family for a ferry ride to Bear Mountain, where I jumped into the Hudson River and had to spend the rest of the day in wet clothes. Didn’t I tell you I was a handful?  

Besides Mrs. Hoey’s Irish Soda Bread, she had wonderful Sunday dinners with roasted leg of lamb that was so delicious. My family would have Sunday dinners with raviolis and meatballs, and Maura and I would be going back and forth between our houses to share dinners.  

I have made Mrs. Hoey’s Irish Soda Bread all these years, and Maura has made my mom’s Pastina recipe just as long.

This is Mrs. Hoey’s recipe. I didn’t discover the other very recognizable recipe for Irish Soda Bread till about 15 years ago when I bought an Irish Soda Bread at the store. The other recipe contains buttermilk and caraway seeds. It is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. It is tasty, but Mrs. Hoey’s will always be the true Irish Soda Bread to me, because it is hers.  

After all the stress and aggravation I caused Mrs. Hoey growing up, she still loves me—goodness knows why. Some people are truly happy to see you and you can feel it. The same goes with people you are happy to see. That is my relationship with Mrs. Hoey. We both are happy to see each other and just sit together and talk.

I always—and I do mean always—bring her some baked goodies. Just so she can tell me how wonderful I am (just kidding, I would bring her goodies, even if she didn’t). Now it is poor Maura who always has to hear how great I am.

Who else is going to tell me how wonderful I am, but Mrs. Hoey? No one except my own mother, and Mrs. Hoey is the next best thing to having my mom here with me.   

Thank you, Mrs. Hoey, for making my dull day bright, just by smiling your smile which is like a ray of sunlight!

Irish Soda Bread

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups sour cream, room temperature
  1. Oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan. In a small bowl, stir raisins into sour cream and let sit until needed. In a medium bowl, combine flour with baking powder and baking soda. Sift together well; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs and add sugar. Continue beating. Add the raisins and sour cream mixture to the eggs and sugar; continue beating on a low speed.   
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture. Beat until everything is mixed together well.   
  5. Bake about 50 to 60 minutes or until golden. Test with a toothpick until it comes out clean from the bread. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, loosen around the edges with a rubber spatula, and then remove bread from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. When bread is completely cool, wet two paper towel and drape them over the bread. Over the wet paper towels, wrap the entire bread with tin foil overnight.
  7. Optional: Double the recipe and make two Irish Soda Breads. Serve one now and freeze the other. This recipe freezes well!
  8. ENJOY!—It’s a “Top o’ the morning” starting the day with Irish Soda Bread! 

Mariann Raftery, creator of Somebody's Mom blog, cooks up comfort food recipes for families here at home, as well as sending homemade cookie care packages to our American soldiers overseas. Somebody's Mom Cooking videos at  http://www.youtube.com, search "Thesomebodysmom".

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