Irish Soda Bread
In Ireland, soda bread is eaten both at the main meal and at breakfast; it's the stuff of everyday consumption.
The basic business of baking soda bread is extremely simple. Soda bread rises wonderfully and bakes with great evenness. The smell of the bread, suddenly released on opening the oven, is ravishing.
For a very crunchy crust, put on a rack to cool. For a softer crust, wrap the cake in a clean dishcloth as soon as it comes out of the oven. Either way, soda bread is wonderful sliced or split and served hot, with sweet butter and/or the jam or jelly of your choice.
Preheat oven to 450° F. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk and stir just until a soft dough is formed.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough very lightly, about 1 minute. Add a little extra flour if the dough is sticky. Do not overwork the dough or it will become tough. Divide into 2 equal portions and shape each into a round loaf.
Place on a large, ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly with your hand. Cut a deep cross into the top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Sprinkle tops with a little flour. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Bake at 450 degrees for 8-15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Makes 2 Loaves