Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a treat I have always looked forward to on St Patrick’s Day – since my friend Cathy is Irish and makes the most exquisite Soda Bread.

I’ve now made this bread so many times and in so many places it’s kind of my signature dish. You’d think I’d be sick of it, but there is something about that first bite of warm bread with a little butter melting on it that is indescribable.

For me, the interesting thing about this recipe was a note that it was from Rania Bratberg (from the Internet).  I was so thrilled to find a recipe on the Internet – what an astonishing idea – but of course that was long, long ago!

4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp caraway seeds

Blend in a large bowl.

1/4 cup softened butter

Cut butter into the flour mixture with a fork or knead it in gently with your hands.

1 box currants (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Add the currants to the flour mixture, and stir to break up any clumps.  Blend the buttermilk and egg well. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and blend oh so gently until everything is moist. Do not overmix this!

Turn out the dough onto a floured tray, and knead gently adding flour as needed for 2-3 minutes. (Or you can just flour your hand and gently knead the bread right in the bowl.) Form an oval on a baking pan and flatten it to no more than about 2″ thick. Slather the loaf with buttermilk and cut a couple of shallow horizontal slashes with a sharp knife.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with a clean, dry towel. Serve with lots of fresh butter.

Note: if you want, you can make two loaves – just bake them for 30 minutes.

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