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[personal profile] cissalj
This is from Cook's Illustrated, and is a more authentic soda bread than the scone-like ones with white flour, currants, and often caraway seeds. This one is not especially sweet.

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Authentic Irish soda bread has a tender, dense crumb and a rough-textured, thick crust—definitely a departure from the more common Americanized soda bread, which is closer to a supersized scone. We wanted to try our hand at the authentic version of this bread, which relies on a simple ingredient list of flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk.

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 cup cake flour
1.5 cups whole-wheat flour
0.5 cup toasted wheat germ
1.5 teaspoons cream of tartar
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups low-fat buttermilk*
1 tablespoon melted butter, optional

If you do not have a cast iron pan the bread can be baked on a baking sheet although the crust won’t be quite as crunchy. Soda bread is best eaten on the day it is baked but does keep well
covered and stored at room temperature for a couple of days after which time it will become dry.

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and adjust a rack to the center position. Place the flours, wheat germ, cream of tartar, soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour using your fingers until it is completely incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk. Work the liquid into the flour mixture using a fork until the dough comes together in large clumps. Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead briefly until the loose flour is just moistened. The dough will be sticky and you may add a small amount of flour as you knead. The dough will still be scrappy and uneven.

2. Form the dough into a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter and place in a cast iron skillet. Score a deep cross on top of the loaf and place in the heated oven. Bake until nicely browned and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with a tablespoon of melted butter if desired. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

* I have used clabbered raw milk, and whey from making ricotta, to good effect instead of the buttermilk. It is important that the dairy provide some acid. Yogurt would also probably work, as it does in many recipes that call for buttermilk. These all change the flavor somewhat, but not all that much.

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