I am so used to baking breads with yeast –and having to wait impatiently for them to rise– that I seriously doubted this recipe for Irish soda bread would amount to anything after its time in the oven. But like magic this turned out to be the most perfect and tasty baked good I've made recently (okay, really the baking soda just reacted with the acidic buttermilk). The cross on the top is much more than decorative: it helps the dough expand as heat penetrates evenly and wards off evil spirits according to an Irish tradition. I of course made the bread in honor of Saint Patrick's Day but the loaf barely lasted a day–it was that yummy.
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or milk of any fat content mixed with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon of caraway seeds
1/2 cup of raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix buttermilk, egg, and oil.
3, Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then pour in wet ingredients. Add raisins and caraway seeds.
5. Blend together with spoon until dough is soft and moist (do not over mix).
6, With liberally floured hands, knead dough into a round shape. Cut two deep crossing slices across top
7. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.