In my 20's I spent almost every Saint Patrick's Day pulling pints at the Irish pub around the corner from my regular job. I'd finish my morning waitressing shift and jog over to the pub, still wearing my apron, grab a pint for myself and then serve corned beef and cabbage for the rest of the afternoon. By that time, the place would be heaving with green-clad college students, and I'd hit the road before things got truly messy.
Those afternoons were good times. The gravelly-voiced, 6'6" Jersey-Irish publican - a surprisingly enthusiastic and unabashed tenor - led us in dozens of Irish folk songs. Whole families came to the pub to eat and sing. We served only Harp and Guinness and none of it was green. But once the sun went down and the last of the corned beef was scraped from the pot, the once-a-year bartenders like myself gave over to the pros, who did hard time for the rest of what they scathingly dubbed 'amateur night'.
That was a long time ago. That lovable singing bar-owner has been dead a decade and the pub has since been shuttered. I don't drink anymore, but those long ago afternoons in mid-March taught me that St. Pat's Day was more about togetherness than getting tanked. These days, I celebrate by digging into my own corned beef, toasting with a non-alcoholic stout, and calling my friends who also hold space for celebrating their family's Irish heritage.
A couple weeks ago, Steve noticed that quite a few of the orders for Saint Patrick's Day chocolates coming through the website also included a package or two of our scone mix. I liked that idea (our customers give us their best ones!), and was inspired to create something with the mix that really could supplement an Irish-y breakfast or tea time. The result is this dead-easy Irish soda bread. Since it is (non-traditionally) sweet and contains chocolate, I recommend serving it for breakfast with coffee, or with afternoon tea.
CHOCOLATE CHUNK IRISH SODA BREAD
Makes one small loaf
- One package Ragged Coast Chocolate Chunk Scone Mix
- 1-1/3 cups buttermilk
- Heat your oven to 450°F. Place a sheet of parchment in bottom the of a Dutch oven, or cast iron pot.
- Pour the mix into a large bowl. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until there are no streaks of flour remaining.
- Scrape the sticky dough into the pot forming a circular mound. Score the mound deeply by cutting nearly completely through the mound of dough with a sharp knife. Make two of these cuts, creating a crosshatch pattern, cleaning the knife between cuts.
- Cover the pot and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid, and bake for another 15 minutes.
- If you can stand it, allow the craggy topped loaf to cool until it is easily handled. Cut into thick slices and serve with copious amounts of good butter.