In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, why not bake a loaf of traditional Irish soda bread. This recipe is easy to make and will bring a touch of Ireland to your table. Serve at tea time, or any time, with jam or apples and cheese. Delicious!
4-4½ cups flour
2 T sugar
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
4 T butter
1 cup currants
1 large egg
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
1 T coarse or sanding sugar
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
3. Using a pastry cutter, or very clean fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add in currants.
4. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.
5. Lightly beat egg – just mix it up in a cup.
6. Add the egg and buttermilk to the well and mix in with a large spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.
7. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If you find the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour one tablespoon at a time. Don’t over-knead.
8. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be on the sticky side. Only work with the dough enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just comes together.
9. Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased baking sheet. Or you can use a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
10. Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape (similar to hot cross buns).
11. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the coarse sugar.
12. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped - about 35-45 minutes.
13. Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer or toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.
14. After removing baking sheet from the oven, let the bread sit for 5-10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
* Note: If the top of the bread is getting too dark while baking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.