Saturday, June 15, 2024

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From the kitchen of Monica Bliss

A recipe for Soda Bread.

New Lebanon— Twenty years ago, I was introduced to my future step-daughters. It was such a special occasion, I hosted my first of what would become many tea parties. For my young step-daughters and later my own two daughters, promises of morning tea parties were exchanged for staying in bed and going to sleep. When grandparents would visit through the years, tea parties were served. Kids’ friends coming over? Time for a tea party. Kids come home from school in tears? Time for a tea party. On a budget and want to do something special? Time for a tea party. As traditions evolve, the tea party stays. For example, a recent holiday tradition is the scout elf, who as part of her holiday antics, brings my daughters an annual Christmas tea party.

Tea parties can be simple (tea and cookies,) elaborate (a full spread,) or quintessentially British (tea, scones, clotted cream, jam, teacakes, and sandwiches.) I love the scone/cream/jam element. Sometimes I serve traditional scones (I recommend Barbara Beach’s recipe.) Sometimes I serve drop biscuits or soda bread in their place. On St. Patrick’s Day last weekend, I made extra soda bread for a Spring Break tea party which I served with cream, jam, and tea sandwiches. This soda bread recipe was handed down to me from my mother-in-law, Kay Ten Kraft, and it is the very best soda bread there is and probably ever was.

Soda Bread. Photo by Monica Bliss.

This is a recipe for American-Irish soda bread. Soda bread served in Ireland does not have caraway seeds and raisins in it.

Nine Cakes’ mini “jampler.” Photo by Monica Bliss.

Nine Cakes in Hudson, N.Y. recently launched a new line of jams, and they sent me a “jampler” (sampler of jams) to taste. I used this tea party as an opportunity to give them a taste. The six flavors included in the sampler were Plum Rosemary, Blueberry Lavender, Cherry Cardamom, Lemon Curd, Apricot Honey, and Triple Citrus. After tasting these jams, I’d be willing to sign up for a lifetime subscription – best jams ever! It’s hard to pick a favorite, so I’ll give Plum Rosemary, Blueberry Lavender, and the Cherry Cardamom each a “mini chef’s kiss.” The tasters, including myself, ooh’d and ahh’d. All of the flavors are deep and perfectly balanced, and they all paired very nicely with the soda bread. Would eat again, and again, and again.

A “jampling.” Photo by Monica Bliss.
Tea sandwiches (ham/butter/dijon/onion, herbed cheese/radish/cucumber, cream cheese/cucumber, paté/sweet gherkin) with an Earl Grey tea. Photo by Monica Bliss.
Soda Bread. Photo by Monica Bliss.

Soda Bread

3.5 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs, beaten, plus extra for glaze
3/4 cup currants or raisins
2 tablespoons caraway seeds

Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl. Combine with whisk or fork, and create a well.

Add beaten eggs and yogurt to a small bowl. Mix with a spoon. 

Add egg mixture to dry ingredient well. Mix well with a spoon.

Add currants/raisins and caraway seeds. Mix with a spoon.

Shape batter into a round and place into a 9″ springform pan.

Dust with flour, and cut a crisscross on top of the round. 

Brush surface with beaten egg. 

Bake for 50 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.


If serving with a tea party, serve with cream and jam.

If serving with corned beef and cabbage, serve with butter.

Have it toasted with butter for an extra special treat!

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