Very American Irish Soda Bread

 
 
 This recipe made a very generous, impressive-looking loaf of Irish Soda Bread.  It's a recipe adapted from Ina Garten and "retrieved" (whatever that means) from strudelandstreusel.com.  I have to say that I followed the recipe to the letter, except that, when I thought the dough was a bit dry, I added another splash of buttermilk, which made the dough quite wet (one of the secrets of a tender crumb).  I started with the paddle attachment to my mixer, then changed to the dough hook when the mixer motor began to strain.  Be gentle, over handling make a tough loaf.  Anyway, there wasn't a crumb left.  It's so good you may not want to wait another year.

4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsps. baking powder
1 1/2 tsps salt
2 tsps. caraway seeds
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 large egg (if you use extra large egg you may not need the extra buttermilk)
Grated zest from 1 lemon (only the yellow)
1 cup golden raisins tossed with 1 tablespoon flour (keeps them distributed through the loaf)
extra sugar for the top before baking

Combine dry ingredients (first six), add butter on low speed until well blended.
Lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, zest and slowly add to flour mixture.  Add the raisins last.
Knead on a well-floured board and shape into round loaf. You can smooth the top by folding the top and sides gently down around the loaf, like tucking in a blanket.  Cut an X on top with a sharp knife and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 375 degree, pre-heated oven (center rack) for 50 minutes.  Cool on cooking rack, serving warm or at room temperature.


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