ACCESSIBLE RECIPES: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Woven Irish Flag


The Gillen Coat of Arms is the knife and fork, so in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I must share some family recipes that celebrate the day.

My grandmother Mary (known as “Nanny” and beloved by her nine grandchildren) was born in Ireland, and came to the U.S. when she was 16.

Here are two of her recipes I make in her honor every year:

Irish Soda Bread Slices in Wicker Basket

Irish Soda Bread


4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants or golden raisins
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients and raisins. Cut in butter. Beat eggs, add them to mixture, then add milk. Place in loaf-shaped pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Nanny’s Irish Apple Cake

Irish Apple Cake


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter plus 1 tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
4 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and diced (2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease an 8-inch round cake pan.

NOTE: The trick to a great apple cake or pie is to brown the apples in butter first.

Heat 1 tbsp butter in frying pan. Gently brown the apples.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, browned apples, nuts, and vanilla and stir well. Sift in dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until cake is lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then un-mold and serve hot or cold with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 10 to 12.

Enjoy! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!


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