Irishsodabread scaled

In March, It’s Great to be Irish!

Crocuses have appeared.

Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson

In some parts of Ireland, daffodils and crocuses have already appeared, a sure sign that spring and St. Patrick’s Day are almost here! And you know what that means — it’s time for soda bread, and this recipe produces one of the best Irish soda breads you’ll ever find. Not to be confused with the popular brown bread, also called “soda bread,” this cake-like version is also called Spotted Dog or Curnie Cake in different parts of Ireland. For a lovely crisp bottom, bake it in a cast iron skillet the way it used to be made, or bake it in two cupcake pans to serve as mini cakes or muffins. You’ll find other festive recipes in my cookbook Teatime in Ireland; to order signed copies, visit irishcook.com

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IRISH SODA BREAD

MAKES 1 LOAF

3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups mixed raisins and sultanas (golden raisins)

3 teaspoons caraway seeds

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Sparkling or sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Softened butter. for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a 9-inch baking pan or two 12-cup muffin pans with nonstick baking spray with flour.

2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder; stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Make a well in center; stir in eggs, buttermilk and butter. Spoon mixture into prepared pan or cups (fill muffin cups two thirds full); sprinkle top with sparkling or sanding sugar.

3. Bake cake for 1 hour (muffins for 23 to 25 minutes), or until top is golden and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes; let cool completely. Serve spread with butter, if desired.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order her cookbooks, visit irishcook.com.