IRISH Soda Bread

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4 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup currants or raisins tossed with 1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter cut into 1/4“ cubes
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk, well-shaken
1 large egg
4-6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the bread:
        Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed half sheet pan with parchment paper, or grease very well. Set aside.         In a large measuring cup, add the buttermilk and egg. Mix lightly with a fork. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the buttermilk mixture. Mix only long enough to incorporate all of the ingredients---not a second more! about 15-20 seconds. Remove the paddle, take the bowl off the stand, and with floured hands, knead the tough 4 or 5 times into a ball. Place on the prepared sheet pan, and form into a round loaf about 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Using a floured knife, or razor, cut a ½” deep “x” on the top of each one, re-flouring the knife after each cut. Brush with the melted butter, making sure to get some of the butter into the cuts.
        Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, and brush the bread again with the melted butter. Return to the oven and bake another 30-40 minutes until golden brown and a skewer in the center comes out clean. Alternatively, if you have an instant read thermometer, when they reach 210 degrees F, they’re done.
        If there’s any left, it can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap. The loaf freeze really well too.

Makes one 9 inch loaf.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure the butter is cold. Soft butter will make a pasty loaf.
2. This really is a quick bread. So don’t fuss with it too much. It’s better if the dough is a little rough.
3. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by mixing 1 ½ Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar into the 1 ½ cups of whole milk. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes to thicken.