4 c unsifted regular all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ c sugar (optional)
1/8 tsp cardamom or coriander (optional)
¼ c butter or margarine
1¾ c buttermilk
Combine in a large bowl the flour, salt, baking powder, soda, sugar and spice (if used).
Add butter or margarine, and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until crumbly.
Beat egg slightly and mix with buttermilk; add to dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Turn out on a floured board and knead until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
Divide dough in half, and shape each into a round loaf; place each loaf in an 8-inch cake or pie pan. Press down until dough fills pans. With floured knife, cut crosses on tops of loaves, about ½ inch deep in the middle.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Makes two loaves. Bread is done when bottom of bread sounds hollow when tapped. Turn the bread out into a basket lined with a towel. Irish soda bread tastes best on the day it is made; it tends to become stale if stored too long. You may be able to revive day old bread with a sprinkling of water and a quick toasting. While butter is a common topping, you can also use clotted cream or preserves.
Currant or Raisin Soda Bread:
Follow basic recipe above, including the sugar; omit cardamom or coriander. Add 2 cups currants or raisins to the flour mixture with 1¼ teaspoons caraway seed (optional). Blend with egg and buttermilk and proceed as directed in above recipe.
Whole Wheat Soda Bread:
Substitute 2 cups whole wheat flour for 2 cups of regular all-purpose flour in the basic recipe above. You might add 1 to 2 cups raisins or chopped dates, if you wish; mix in with the dry ingredients before adding the liquid.