When I was in the 6th grade, we had to do a country report: a huge year-long project studying a particular country of our choosing. We got to pick whatever country we wanted but only one kid could pick a particular country. We spent what seemed like all school year researching and working away and the culmination of the projects would be a world's fair type presentation (set up in the gym) where we were to dress up in traditional outfits from our respective countries and bring a traditional food to share.
Unless you happened to be a worldly 11 year old (which I certainly wasn't), it seemed the only two criteria that anyone really considered when selecting a country were: the traditional outfit you got to wear on the day we presented our reports and the food. I chose Ireland. I don't particularly remember why but I do remember I made Irish Soda Bread to share and most of all I remember the extremely scratchy wool skirt of my mom's rigged with safety pins in the back that I wore along with a purple beret from Goodwill we scrounged up. Do they even wear berets in Ireland? I have a feeling not but I guess that's the best my mom and I could come up with! There's a photo floating around somewhere of that unfortunate ensemble but I'll spare you. Instead, I'll leave you with this delicious and super easy recipe for mini Irish soda breads full of deliciously sharp Irish cheddar. If you've never had soda bread, it's not unlike a biscuit or scone, with buttermilk and baking soda acting as the raising agents rather than yeast. They come together in about 30 minutes and are so tasty. Enjoy these warm with a smear of Irish butter (duh) alongside corned beef and cabbage, soup, or all on their own. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Irish Cheddar Soda Bread Muffins
makes 12 muffins
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1 1/2 c sharp Irish cheddar (about 4 oz), grated
1 t fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 T butter, melted
Irish butter, to serve
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the parsley and cheddar and stir to combine. Mix in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together. Dump the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and pat into a uniform disk. Divide the dough into 12 even portions and gently form each piece into a ball.
Using a sharp knife or pair of kitchen scissors, snip an x on the top of the dough to allow the steam to escape as they bake. Add the balls to the lined muffin tin and brush each with the melted butter. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with Irish butter.