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Irish Soda Bread - Treacle Bread

butter-flavor no stick cooking spray
4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
2 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. nonfat buttermilk

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375F.
Coat the cookie sheet or baking pan with cooking spray. Dust with
flour, and tap out excess flour.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking
soda, salt, and sugar. Add the butter, and use your fingertips to
pinch it into the flour until it is in very small flakes and no
large lumps remain. (I use pastry blender) Stir in the raisins and

Beat the egg in a cup or small bowl. Make a well in the center of
the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and all but 1 tbs. of
the beaten egg (reserving the rest for glaze). With a wooden spoon,
blend thoroughly, until all is moistened, but DO NOT overbeat.
The dough will be sticky.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and lightly
knead with floured hands for 1 - 2 minutes. The dough should be
neither wet nor totally dry to the touch; the surface will be bumpy.
Add a little more flour if necessary. Form the dough into a ball
about 8 inches in diameter.

Set the dough on the prepared cookie sheet or in the pan. Use a
sharp knife to cut a cross about 1/2" deep in the top. Using a
pastry brush, brush the reserved beaten egg over the top of the
dough. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until the bread is well
risen and golden brown on top, and a long skewer inserted in the
center comes out dry.

Traditionally, the bread is cooled on a rack, then covered with a
cloth towel, which softens the crust and keeps the interior moist.
Alternatively, the loaf can be cooled and stored in an airtight
tin or plastic bag. To serve, cut into wedges with a serrated
knife. Serve freshly baked bread as is, day-old bread toasted.

Yield 1 round loaf; 16 slices


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