Elderberry & orange zest soda bread


I dream some nights of a funny sea, 
as soft as a newly born baby. 

It cries for me so pitifully! 
And I dive for my child with a wildness in me, 
and am so sweetly there received. 

But last night came a different dream; 
a gray and sloping-shouldered thing
said "What's cinched 'round your waist, Colleen? 
is that my very own baleen? 
No! Have you forgotten everything?

- From Colleen, a Celtic inspired song by Joanna Newsom

While ancestral traditions mean a great deal to me, I realized I don't speak much about my Irish heritage. Perhaps it's due to my disconnect from the Irish side of my family or because I grew up with a Swedish grandmother who made Scandinavian traditions a big part of our holidays. Either way, I'm incredibly Irish. Take one look at my scarily pale complexion or my last name and you'll see it. 

Ireland holds a great deal of whimsy and mystery for me. I've never been but I often fantasize about working on a sheep farm somewhere amongst those emerald hills. Perhaps I will start honoring the Irish side of myself by researching more recipes and customs and lore that I am not yet familiar with. If you have any suggestions, send them my way! 



4 cups flour  
1 teaspoon baking soda  
4 tablespoons cane sugar or honey
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/3 cups buttermilk  
1/2 (4 tablespoons) stick unsalted butter
1 egg
1/4 cup dried elderberries soaked  
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Start by soaking elderberries in water for about 20-30 minutes. In a large bowl or stand up mixer, add flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Cut butter into small cubes and mix into flour by squeezing the butter with your hands until its combined with flour. In a separate bowl, beat egg and add to buttermilk along with your orange zest. Strain the elderberries and mix those in as well. Stir and pour into flour bowl and mix well. Your dough will be very sticky and wet. On a floured surface, knead dough for 1-2 minutes then shape into a roundish form. Place on baking sheet prepared with parchment paper. With a serrated knife, cut an X into the top of your dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until bread sounds hollow.

Honey butter  

1 stick softened butter  
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon  
A pinch of salt  

Cut butter into cubes and mash with a fork. Add honey, salt and cinnamon and mix into butter.  Place onto parchment paper and roll into a log shape then twist ends. Your finished product should resemble a wrapped candy. Keep in fridge to harden.