The only issue with leaving one's elder sister in charge of taking the Irish soda bread out of the oven when the younger leaves to buy mustard from the grocery store is that upon her return, a chunk of the freshly baked bread from the lower right quadrant is missing. After 30 years of this, you'd think I'd know better.
After the hour it takes for this bread to come together, you'll know better than to try for any other recipe. Happy St. Patrick's Day (turns out he never banished any snakes from Ireland after all and prior to becoming a saint, he was an atheist and enslaved by pirates for six years)!
Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk, Currants and Caraway
adapted from my mom's 1964 edition of The Joy of Cooking
This is a great bread served along side the ubiquitous corned beef this time of year but for the vegans -- consider making baked red beans in a porter and mustard sauce. And braised cabbage is always a gift to our palates.
2 c AP flour
3/4 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 T cane sugar
6 T chilled butter, cut into cubes (or vegan replacement)
3/4 c currants (or raisins)
1 T caraway seeds
1 c buttermilk (or rice/grain milk with a splash of rice vinegar)
Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a small 10 inch pie plate (or whatever you have -- it's a rustic loaf so it doesn't really matter).
Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients.
Cut the butter into the sifted dry ingredients (with a food processor, pastry blade, or with two forks) until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal.
Stir in the currants and caraway seeds.
Gradually add the buttermilk, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (just so it doesn't make an annoying noise). The batter should not dry. Knead a a couple of times and shape into a round loaf.
Place in the greased pie plate and cut a bold X across the top, from side to side so that the bread will not crack while it bakes.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top has glazed. Let cool a bit before jumping up and down with glee.
Yields: enough for 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40 - 50 minutes