Celtic stories and music have always been a favorite in the Clarkson home. We attend a Scottish festival each year that we are able and hear the Celtic bands, watch the sheep dogs work the herd and watch the young dancers compete. Every St. Pat's Day, we go to our local Irish Family Pub and order lots of fish and chips and watch all the teams dance to the live bands. It is noisy, fun and a little of what some of our heritage might have been.
Scotch-Irish, English, and pure Scottish background gives us a love for all things Celtic. Clay is related to Thomas Boston who was a Christian leader in Scotland and believe it or not, my Aunt traced my maiden family back to the mother of John, Richard the Lionhearted and the whole clan. So somewhere there is a vestige of royalty in my blood.
One of the best biographies we read out-loud to our children was an old several hundred page book filled with stories about St. Patrick's faith to a totally pagan Island. His faith, his travels, and the peril of his sea journeys kept us intrigued all the way through his life history.
St. Patrick's story is a wonderful one and my children loved to read of him again every year. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland is a lovely choice if you're looking to familiarize your children with his story this year--you can find it by clicking that title.
Feasting on soda bread is lots of fun. Warm out of the oven and slightly sweet, we love to gobble ours down with raspberry jam.
Baking bread is such an especially wonderful smell when we have long days indoors, and this one is a favorite! Enjoy!
Irish Freckle Bread
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
This is a pretty heavy dough, so if you have a stand mixer with a bread hook, I'd suggest that--you can even double this recipe!
In a large bowl, place:
2 cups hot water
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 Tbsp. yeast
1/3 cup maple syrup or honey (or raw sugar)
Mix thoroughly. Then add:
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/2 cup dried currants or craisins
1 Tbsp. Real salt
1 cup of grated carrots
1/4 cup oil 1/2 cup dried pineapple, snipped in small pieces
3/4 cups golden raisins
4-4 1/2 cups freshly ground flour, enough to very slightly clean the sides of the bowl. If you add too much, it will be too dry--so just slowly add it until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl as it is mixing. The dough should be a bit sticky. Knead 5 minutes. Shape into a free-formed round loaf, or place in loaf pan. Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1Tbsp. water.)
Let bread rise until double in size.
Lower heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 35-40 minutes.