The first time I had Irish soda bread was at a tea room in St. George, Ontario. They serve a plain version with honey and butter and a "spotted dog" version, which is dotted with currants. I immediately loved it when I discovered how easy it is to make and since then it's become a staple in my baking repertoire. It was one of the first things I ever mastered baking as a kid. The magic of the bread is the baking soda reacting with the acid in the buttermilk that makes the bread rise and creates a beautiful crunchy crust. I especially love it toasted and buttered. I have been reading many outraged postings by Irish folk who are mortified by what passes as Irish soda bread, I especially liked the taking down on "Society for the Preservation of Soda Bread" where they are very clear that neither jalapenos nor orange zest were ever available to their poor country brethren who created the bread. Here is the recipe I use for soda bread - I received it from an Irish woman so hopefully it passes as traditional without scorn from the Preservation Society. Traditional Irish Soda Bread 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1 - 1 1/4 cups buttermilk Combine all dry ingredients. Add buttermilk and mix until the dough comes together. You might need two tablespoons more or less buttermilk, the dough should be moist and a bit sticky. Shape into a round and place in a cast iron pan (you can on use a parchment lined baking sheet if you don't have cast iron, but I like the crust it gets in the pan). Cut an X into the top with a sharp knife and bake for about 45 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven until dark golden. The loaf should sound hollow when you pick it up and knock on the bottom. Cool at least 15 minutes before slicing - it tastes best the same day it is made. Here's a video that shows how easy this bread is to make. Happy St. Paddy's Day!