Yesterday, I made FIFTEEN loaves of Irish soda bread for my church’s coffee hour. We have a lovely tradition of having baking teams take turns baking something fresh during service, so that when everyone comes out for coffee hour, the whole church smells delicious, and there are fresh goodies, baked with love, for everyone.
I chose Irish soda bread in honor of St. Patrick’s day, but also because it’s one of the easiest things in the world to make. I had two wonderful helpers – thanks, Barbara and Heather! – and my daughter Nora helped when she got out of Sunday school by wandering around with a tray full of freshly sliced bread.
For those who asked for it, here’s the recipe I used. We made the bread in rounds, not in loaf pans. Be warned! The recipe says it makes 3 loaves, but those were ENORMOUS loaves, and we really should have made the loaves smaller, more like four loaves per batch.
I made a quadruple batch of this recipe in one enormous stainless steel bowl. mixing and kneeding by hand. I thought for sure my shoulders would be incredibly sore today, but they’re really not bad. I also left out the caraway seeds, mainly because I couldn’t find any in bulk, but also because I was concerned that the seeds would cause issues. I know too many people with diverticulitis. The quadruple batch needed a few extra cups of flour to come to the right consistency and thus actually made thirteen loaves.
In addition, I made two gluten-free loaves using flour from Something Sweet Without Wheat in Arlington and the Betty Crocker recipe. I think I actually liked the GF version better!
I had so much fun doing this that I completely forgot to take photos. I really enjoy cooking with a team. We shared our experiences and influences in cooking. We’d all grown up in different parts of the country. Barbara talked about growing up in Houston and how everything is better with bacon grease. I talked about how cooking can be a spiritual practice, as well as a practical one. How we can support our friends and family, express kindness and love through food.
At the end of coffee hour, we had four regular loaves and 1.5 gluten-free loaves left. We gave one loaf to a lunch meeting going on elsewhere in the church, then quartered the loaves, put them in freezer bags, labelled them carefully, and stuck them in the Lay Ministry freezer. They’ll be distributed to people in need, those who are sick or have had surgery or other serious difficulties, who need nourishment and the support of the community.
I love this. I love giving back to my church. I love using my skills to bring joy and contentment to others. More of that in my live would be lovely. Good thing I picked up some marshmallow fluff at the grocery store last night.