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Irish Soda Bread

Makes 2 round loaves

Irish Soda Bread is a quick, non-yeast bread. It is an easy and delicious accompaniment to any meal, but traditional on a St. Patrick's Day menu. This recipe was adapted from a Jeff Smith cookbook.

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 375° F. Place all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well-combined. Add the buttermilk all at once and stir just until a soft dough is formed. Remove to a lightly floured surface and knead until everything comes together, about 1 minute. (The dough should be soft and smooth, not too wet and sticky. If it is, add just a little extra flour.)

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and shape each into a round loaf. Place on a large, ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly with your hand. Cut a shallow cross on the top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Sprinkle tops with a little flour. Let rest for 10 minutes. Bake in the middle of the oven until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool on baking racks. The bread is very good as is and excellent toasted.

Notes: I have used dried buttermilk powder with this recipe and it works very well. Be sure to follow the directions on the package. Alternately, you can add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to 2-1/2 cups low fat milk and let it set for about five minutes, until it looks slightly curdled. Irish soda bread is sometimes made with dried fruit, such as raisins or currants. Use about 1/2 cup and add them to the mixed dry ingredients before the buttermilk.