Irish Soda Bread
4 cups flour (unbleached is best)
1 to 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (to taste)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
a generous 1/2 stick (4 and 1/2--5 tablespoons) melted butter--use the frying pan you will bake this in to melt the butter
about 1/2 medium box of raisins (can mix golden and brown, or use currents)
2 cups buttermilk
Greased cast iron fry pan to bake it in.
Preheat oven to 325.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, sugar, and baking soda. Beat the eggs in a smaller bowl and add to them the buttermilk and the melted butter. Mix wet ingredients well. Sprinkle half the seeds and the raisins into the dry mixture and begin to add the wet mixture on top of it, mixing with a rubbermaid spatula. When you’ve given it a few turns, add the rest of the seeds and raisins, and the rest of the wet ingredients. Gently mix the dough until wet and dry mixtures are combined. Do not overmix. You want a folding motion, and a few lumps are OK as long as everything is moistened and holding together. Dough will be stiff--perhaps like drop biscuits. You may need a tablespoon or two more buttermilk on a dry day.
Put dough into frying pan in which you have melted the butter (you will also have wiped the extra butter up the sides of it, so the dough won’t stick).
Bake at 325 for about an hour. To check for doneness, take the bread out of the oven and gently invert the fry pan, catching the bread in your other (hot gloved!!!) hand. Insert a roasting thermometer. Properly cooked soda bread should be 190 to 195 degrees, and the top will be golden brown.
Eat warm or cool, with butter. This is also good toasted, and will keep in a plastic bag for two or three days.
Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm on Randoradio.com today--Friday the 12th--at 4 PM, as always.