Oh, this bread. I made a loaf this morning and when it came out of the oven I stood at the stove with my Butter Bell in hand, cutting off warm slices and slathering them with butter.
The bread is so easy to make—I just throw everything into the standing mixer and then knead the dough into shape. The last step before you put the bread in the oven is to cut a cross into the dome of the dough. Irish legend says that’s to “let the devil out.” Grandma Charlotte was mostly Dutch and German, so she may have had more practical reasons for the cross—like allowing the dough to cook more evenly—but she did have some Irish in her and married an Irishman, so who knows? And, anyway, it can’t hurt!
Don’t worry about saving any bread for later—it tastes best fresh out of the oven and doesn’t keep as well as yeasted breads.
Grandma Charlotte’s Irish Soda Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. caraway seeds (I’m not a big fan, so I just sprinkle some on top)
Cut in 4 Tbsp. butter
In a separate bowl, beat together 1 egg and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk.
Add to dough and mix until the dough holds together. Turn out on a floured board and gently knead into a ball. Flatten slightly so bread is about 3 inches tall and cut an X in the top. Beat 1 egg and brush over the top to improve browning.
Wet a baking sheet with water and place bread on the sheet. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until loaf sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. Remove the bread from the oven and serve as soon as you can! With lots of soft butter. (If you’re not eating the bread right away, place the baking sheet on the counter and cover with a damp cloth to cool.)