Entered for ZWT, found posted by Katherine on DoCharo.com as a traditional Irish recipe. Irish flour is preferred; if unavailable use unbleached or plain white flour or any soft, low-gluten flour. King Arthur sells an Irish style flour. DO NOT USE BREAD FLOUR or SEMINOLA FLOUR. Katherine showed 1 level teaspoon as the Imperial measurement for bread soda and salt. DO NOT USE HOMOGENIZED BUTTERMILK; you can use whole milk that has gone a little sour, or in a pinch you can add 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar to fresh milk, but the bread will turn out a little heavier. Also, don't knead; work quickly with your fingers and get the loaf in the oven ASAP. This bread doesn't last long, it goes stale quickly. The next day it could be toasted.
- 3 1⁄2 cups irish flour (READ RECIPE DESCRIPTION - 450g) or 3 1⁄2 cups plain flour (READ RECIPE DESCRIPTION - 450g) or 3 1⁄2 cups unbleached flour (READ RECIPE DESCRIPTION - 450g)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda (1 Imperial teaspoon) or 1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (1 Imperial teaspoon)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (1 Imperial teaspoon)
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar or 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1⁄3 cups buttermilk (READ RECIPE DESCRIPTION - 1/2 Imperial pint or 1/3 liter) or 1 1⁄3 cups sour milk (READ RECIPE DESCRIPTION - 1/2 Imperial pint or 1/3 liter)
- 1⁄2 cup sultana raisins (any combination) or 1⁄2 cup golden raisins (any combination) or 1⁄2 cup dark raisin (any combination)
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar or 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- 2⁄3 cup buttermilk (1/4 Imperial pint or 166ml) or 2⁄3 cup sour milk (1/4 Imperial pint or 166ml)
- Preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas Mark 6. DO NOT START UNTIL OVEN IS READY. Then ignore the doorbell, telephone and cell phone until your bread is in the oven. For best results, measure everything before you begin.
- Sieve the flour, bread soda, salt and about 2 teaspoons of sugar into a large bowl and mix in the fruit. Whisk about 1 1/3 cup of the milk together with the egg. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in almost all of the milk and egg mixture. Quickly and with a light touch, use your fingers to quickly and lightly bring the flour in from the edges and mix with the milk, until all the ingredients come together into a dough.
- Use your hands, not a spoon or mixer. Work quickly and lightly.
- The dough should be soft rather than wet or sticky. If it is too dry add a little more of the milk and egg mix or the of the remaining buttermilk. Once it has come together, do not knead, just place it on a floured wooden board, pick up a handful of flour and rub it into the palms of your hands so that they are perfectly dry, and and then shape the dough into a round about 2 inches thick.
- Brush the top of the dough with some of the remaining milk and sprinkle the rest of the sugar over it. Cut a deep cross on the top of the dough.
- Put the bread into the oven immediately.
- After 5 minutes turn the oven down to 400ºF (200ºC/regulo 6). The initial high temperature gives the bread a nice brown crust.
- After another 25 minutes take the bread out and knock on the base. If it sounds hollow it is done, if not return it to the oven for about 5 minutes and then check again.
- Eat the day of baking or toast it the next day.
The end result was good, but I had to play with it a bit. The instructions were a touch confusing, I am not sure where the extra buttermilk to brush on the loaf before baking came from, as I used the whole amount plus some extra as the mixture was quite dry, which as any bread baker will tell you depends on the flour's moisture content. It needed more salt, as well, so I doubled the amount. This recipe really has promise, though. If you are watching your salt intake, this is a good bread for you, the crumb is tenser, due to the buttermilk and no real working of the dough. Thanks, Kathy! Made for WT8