Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Dietary guidance: v n
THESE ARE THE DRY INGREDIENTS:
2 Cups Flour
- If you're one of those uppity Northerners, use 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, and 1-1/2 cups regular whole wheat flour. If you're from God's own country in the South, use cake or pastry flour.
1 tsp. Salt
- Put another teaspoon into your pocket.
1 teaspoon baking soda
- So, apparently this is not the same thing as baking powder, and real bakers will totally laugh at you if you don't know that.
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- That tiny little can at the very back of the spice drawer? Now you know what to use it for.
THESE ARE THE WET INGREDIENTS:
2 Tbs honey
- Give or take. Everyone's always gone on to me about how Baking is like Chemistry, and exact measurements are so important to everything. How you measure exactly 2 Tablespoons of honey is beyond me.
3/4 cup buttermilk
- To start with.
2 tablespoons melted butter
- Don't cut along the 2 Tablespoon line and then melt that. Melt more than that, and measure out 2 Tablespoons. You'll need the extra to grease the pan anyway.
1/2 cup raisins or currants (optional)
- Seriously optional. Some people swear it's glorious and not real sodabread without them, some people would sooner add crushed glass.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients well with a whisk or something. Probably a baker has a special tool for this. You could get your glorious, sexy electrical mixer out, but this is sort of beneath it, since you can't use it for the next step.
Once they're good and mixed, make a hole in middle and pour in the wet ingredients willy-nilly in any order you like. Just like back in chemistry class, right bakers?
Hand-mix this whole mess into a dough, but only work it enough to fully mix the ingredients. Don't manhandle it all over the place or the dough will get rubbery, and you'll reinforce the stereotype that the Irish are abusive, indelicate brutes.
If dough is sticky, add flour. If it's crumbly, add buttermilk. Again with the exact measurements, right? Either way, add TINY amounts at a time if you add them. It's real easy to add too much, and then have to add more of the other, and it turns on you like a freak shaving accident.
Once it's all one consistency, sprinkle some flour on a counter and fold the dough over itself half a dozen times on it (i think this is the "kneading" that bakers are always going on about). Afterward, form the dough into a round loaf.
Put the loaf on a buttered baking tray, and score the top with an X using the sharpest knife you've got. Traditionally this is to let the Devil out. This really seems to pose a lot more questions than it answers, but more answers are not forthcoming on the subject.
Bake the dough on the center rack at 350 until it's done; about 35 to 40 minutes. The loaf should not be burnt anywhere, and should sound hollow when tapped on the underside.
Makes 4 units of Happiness.