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Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for sprinkling onto dough
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3/4 cup currants, optional
1 3/4 to 2 cups low-fat cultured buttermilk

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Stir flour, wheat germ, baking soda and
salt in large bowl. Add butter and toss to coat with flour. With
fingertips, blend butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse
meal. Add caraway seeds and currants, if using; stir to combine.
Stir in 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, adding more if necessary to moisten
dough evenly. Do not overwork dough. Knead dough on floured surface
with floured hands, 1 to 2 minutes, sprinkling with additional
flour to prevent sticking. Divide dough in half. Place dough on
baking sheet or jelly roll pan lighlty sprinkled with flour; pat
dough out into two 5-inch rounds. Sprinkle rounds lightly with
flour and spread out dough with fingers. Cut shallow X on top of
each round with sharp knife. Bake bread until golden brown, about
35 minutes. To test for doneness, tap on bottom of loaf; it should
sound hollow. Cool on rack.


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