Not the World’s Best Irish Soda Bread

Honestly? I never thought my soda bread was anything special, but people kept telling me it was the greatest they ever had, hence my now embarrassing declaration that it was the world’s best. Don’t believe the malarkey.

The truth is that mine is not even the best in the region, as proven at the soda bread baking contest held March 9 at Albany’s Irish American Heritage Museum.

I was counting on there being few entries for such an obscure event, but couldn’t have been more wrong. In excess of 50 loaves were presented for judging — 39 of those in my category, the “not strictly traditional” class. Let me explain. It seems real soda bread, according to the rules, is very simple stuff:

White flour, buttermilk or sour milk, bread soda, and salt are the authentic ingredients used. NOTE: baking powder, sugar, eggs etc. may NOT be used.

And what I make? According the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread:

If your “soda bread” has raisins, it’s not “soda bread! It’s called “Spotted Dog” or “Railway Cake”! If it contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar or shortening, it’s called “cake”, not “bread.” All are tasty, but not traditional Irish Soda Bread!

So anyway, at least three of the non-traditional entries were superior to mine and I walked off empty handed, but the competition was certainly a good time, with many friendly people and more soda bread, spotted dog, and railway cake than you could possibly eat in one afternoon.

And in case anyone’s interested in my recipe, you can find it here. It’s not the world’s best, but not bad.

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