Irish Soda Bread

This is a delightful loaf to have with tea.  It makes a great breakfast spread with butter and orange marmalade.  I don't think currants and orange zest are traditional, but Ina uses these to good effect in this recipe.

You can make one large loaf, or two medium-sized ones.  I have tried this both ways and much prefer to make two loaves, one to eat and one to freeze for later.  The baking time is shorter and it doesn't take so long for the doughy center to bake to doneness when you divide the dough into two.  Trust me on this!

Irish Soda Bread
Makes two medium-sized loaves
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 Tblsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tblsp (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times.  Divide dough into two equal portions. Form into round loaves, and place them on the prepared sheet pan.  Lightly cut an X into the top of each loaf with a serrated knife. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (When you tap a loaf, it should have a hollow sound.)

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with salted butter.  Yum!