IRISH SODA BREAD
Makes 2 x 8" rounds
4 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 to 3 tablespoons for kneading
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds*
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ to 2 cups dark raisins, plumped**
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven shelf to the lower third level of the oven. Butter 2x 8" layer pans or line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Stir in the caraway seeds if desired.
3. Cut the butter into 1/2" cubes and add it to the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the raisins.
4. In a small bowl, blend together the buttermilk, baking soda, whole eggs, and egg white. Stir liquids into the flour mixture blending together with a fork. When liquids are absorbed, turn the batter onto a floured surface. The mixture will be sticky. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth.
5. Divide the dough in half. Shape each piece into a ball, flatten slightly, and place into the layer pan or side by side on parchment lined pan.. Using a razor blade, cut a 4" cross about 1/2" deep in the center of the ball.
6. Combine the egg yolk with the water and brush on the surface of the dough. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing.
**Soak raisin in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and use as directed above