The Deacon's Bench

Here’s something I never knew: the spiritual seeds of Irish soda bread. According to this item from America Magazine, it has to do with the cross that is cut on top:

It’s scientific, primarily, because it allows the heat to penetrate into the thickest part of the bread, so it assists cooking. And obviously the cross is a cruciform shape, so in a Catholic country that had a resonance — it had the symbolic note of crossing the breads and giving thanks. There was also the expression “to let the devil out of the bread,” so it was slightly superstitious. And if you make that cruciform shape on the bread, when it comes out of the oven it breaks beautifully. So you’ve got the blessing of the bread by putting the cross on it and then you’ve got the symbolic breaking of the bread.

But wait! There’s more! The recipe, below:


3 ½ cups of flour 

¾ cup of sugar 

3 tsps. baking powder 

½ tsp. baking soda 

½ tsp. salt
¼ cup of butter – melted 

1 pint of sour cream 

1 cup or more of raisins 

1 egg – beaten


Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Mix in melted butter by hand. Add raisins and mix again, by hand. Add beaten egg and sour cream. Mix thoroughly by hand. Put in greased and floured 9″ round layer-cake pan. Cut a cross in it. Say a prayer. Bake for 55 minutes at 375 degrees. Insert a knife into the center of the bread to test if it is done. If it is cooked all the way through, the knife should come out clean. Remove loaf from pan. Cool and enjoy.

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