I had to go pretty far back on my family tree to find my Irish roots, but they're definitely there. Just enough of them, I suppose, to appreciate this beautiful loaf of what I've always called Irish Soda bread, even though now I've discovered that it really isn't.
Did you know that there are rules for making Irish Soda Bread? The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread tells us that any ingredient other than flour, baking soda, sour milk and salt make your loaf an imposter. This loaf, my friends, is definitely an imposter. A tasty one, but an imposter nonetheless.
This loaf has a bit of added sugar, some butter, a lot of currants- ingredients that deny it the title of an authentic Irish Soda bread, but make it oh-so-delicious. The lovely loaf they do make is called Spotted Dog. I think I like that even better.
Spotted Dog is a quick and easy loaf to put together to enjoy at breakfast or tea time. Warm out of the oven and slathered with butter? That would be the top o' my mornin' for sure! Leftovers make a great toast too.
This recipe makes two loaves; enjoy one now and freeze one for later. Better yet, share with a friend. Just please make sure you cut a deep X into the top of your loaf before baking. Why? To let the fairies out, of course. Who wants to suffer the wrath of toasted fairies? :)
Spotted Dog: An Irish Tea Cake
Adapted from this recipe and this recipe
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick) cut into small cubes
2 cups currants or raisins
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a baking sheet or cover with parchment paper.
- In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.
- Cut butter into dry ingredients with a fork or dough blender until mixture resembles large crumbs.
- Stir in currants or raisins.
- Whisk together the beaten egg, the buttermilk, and the vanilla extract.
- Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients.
- Pour buttermilk mixture into the well and gently mix together until the dough is evenly blended. Do not over-mix.
- Turn sticky dough out onto a generously floured surface. With floured hands, gently knead dough just enough (just flop it over a couple of times) and form into two softball sized balls of dough. Do not over-knead! It will make your bread/cake tough. You don't need your dough to be smooth and shiny- you want a nice craggy surface to make that beautiful crust!
- Place your dough balls onto your prepared baking sheet and slightly flatten them into round loaves. Leave plenty of room between your loaves for rising.
- Cut an X shape into the top of each loaf, all the way to the edges. This lets the fairies out!
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until loaves are browned and sound hollow when you tap them.
- Slice, slather with butter, and enjoy!