Get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit

Irish soda bread is the perfect accompaniment to corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.
Irish soda bread is the perfect accompaniment to corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

One day a year, we’re all feeling Irish — especially when it comes to our appetite for corned beef, cabbage and (maybe) green beer.

Regardless of heritage, Americans embrace St. Patrick’s Day as their own, gobbling traditional foods and drink in abundance.

How much do we get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit? According to personal finance website WalletHub, the tab on our St. Patrick’s Day revelry will add up to more than $4.6 billion today. That’s an average of $36.50 per celebrant — most of that on drink.

In fact, St. Patrick’s Day now ranks as America’s No. 4 favorite drinking holiday (following in order New Year’s Eve, Christmas and Fourth of July). But we don’t drink alone. Worldwide, an estimated 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed today.

How Irish are we? About 33.3 million Americans have Irish heritage — more than seven times the population of Ireland. Irish-Americans rank as the second largest ethnic group in the United States (German-Americans are No. 1).

According to WalletHub research, more than half of all Americans will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in some way. Of those, 82.4 percent will wear green.

To get in the spirit of the occasion, bake a loaf of soda bread. Sort of like a giant scone or buttermilk biscuit, it’s an easy accompaniment to corned beef and braised cabbage. The “X” on the top of the soda bread loaf is part of its tradition; according to lore, it wards off evil spirits from your St. Patrick’s Day gathering.

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

Irish soda bread

Makes 1 loaf.


3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup raisins, if desired

3/4 cup buttermilk


Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheet.

Cut butter into flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in raisins and just enough buttermilk so dough leaves side of bowl.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth. Shape into round loaf, about 6-1/2 inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheet. Cut an “X” shape about 1/2 inch deep through top of loaf with a floured knife.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with softened butter or margarine, if desired. Serve while warm.

Recipe courtesy Betty Crocker.