Classic Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients: – 4 cups all-purpose flour – 1 teaspoon baking soda – 1 teaspoon salt – 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or 1 3/4 cups milk mixed with 1 3/4 tablespoons lemon juice or white vinegar, let sit for 5 minutes before using)

Optional Additions: – 1/2 to 1 cup raisins or currant – 1 tablespoon caraway seed

Preheat the Oven: – Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Lightly grease or flour a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.

Mix Dry Ingredients: – In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. If using, stir in the raisins or currants and caraway seeds.

Add Buttermilk: – Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix the ingredients until they come together into a rough dough. Be careful not to overmix; the dough should be slightly sticky but manageable.

Shape the Dough: – Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it a few times until it forms a round loaf. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. Shape it into a round ball and place it on the prepared baking sheet.

Score the Dough: – Use a sharp knife to make a deep cross-shaped cut in the top of the loaf. This helps the bread to bake evenly and allows steam to escape during baking.

Bake the Bread: – Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake the bread for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool and Serve: – Remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Irish Soda Bread is best served warm with butter or as a side dish with soups and stews.