For as long as I can remember, my mother has made Irish soda bread every year in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day. She would stand in the kitchen, digging her hands into the dough, baking loaf upon loaf for friends and family. Once she wrestles the sticky dough into a pan, my father uses a knife to cut a cross into the top and then pauses to say a short prayer, blessing the bread, those who eat it, and for special intentions that day. While the ingredient of prayer is my father's special touch, the tradition of cutting a cross into the top of a loaf of Irish soda bread actually serves a two-fold purpose: 1. It allows the heat to penetrate to assist cooking. 2. The cross is the symbolic note of crossing the breads and giving thanks. This treat sliced thin and lightly toasted with butter and a hot tea- oh how my mouth waters right now. Visit my site to see recipe.