St. Patrick's Day is near and Linda Weeks is getting in the spirit early with a traditional Irish dish. Linda says its easy to be intimidated by baking bread but this is easy recipe.
IRISH SODA BREAD
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup golden raisins (called sultanas in Ireland and Britain)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
3. Use your clean fingers or two knives or a pastry cutter and work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
4. Add in the raisins.
5. Make a well in the center of the four mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too still to stir.
6. Dust hands with a little flour then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a round ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with add in a little more flour. Do not over knead.
7. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. note that the dough will be a little sticky and quite shaggy (a little like shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.
8. Tranfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillit or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet).
9. Using a serrated knife, core top of dough about an inch and a half deep in a "X' SHAPE. The purpose of scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.
10. Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.
11. Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly.
12. Serve bread warm at room temperature or sliced and toasted. It's best eaten warm and just baked.
Linda Weeks says if the top of the cake is getting too dark while it bakes, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.ttttttc