3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons caraway seeds, depending on your taste (optional)
1/2-3/4 cup raisins, depending on your taste (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk* (see note below)
For Baking Sheet:
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C. Very lightly spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and lightly sprinkle baking sheet with flour.
Mix flour, caraway seeds, raisins, (if using either or both), baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk* (see note below) to form a cohesive dough.
With floured hands, gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly flour surfaced and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into a 6-inch diameter by 2-inch-high round loaf.
Place on prepared baking sheet. Dip large sharp knife in flour, and cut a cross (X) halfway through center of dough so that it will easily break into quarters when baked.
Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 20 minutes more, or until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom and when skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely. Serve with butter, clotted or double cream. Spread with jam or preserves.
Tip: Soda bread is best eaten as fresh as possible. It's great eaten the next day, toasted.
*Note: If needed, substitute liguid buttermilk in recipe with 6 tablespoons powdered buttermilk, and mix with 1 1/2 cups water
OR, substitute 4 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1 1/4 cups. Let stand 10 minutes.
Makes 1 (6 x 2-inch) round loaf, or 8 servings.
Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2003
Date: March 17, 2003