Many recipes call it "Irish Soda Bread," but if your mother is from Ireland, it's just soda bread. This recipe was handwritten at the end of one of the chapters of her most-used cookbook, and also inserted alphabetically into the book's index. It's wonderful fresh with butter or without, and at least as good toasted if it's around for more than a day or two. —Ohioan49
What You'll Need
unbleached white flour
cream of tartar
1/2 - 3/4 cups
1 2/3 cups
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9- or 10-inch pie plate (an 8-inch one will keep the middle of the bread from cooking).
In a large bowl, mix or sift flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together well. Rub butter in with your fingers until it is nearly absorbed. Add currants and stir to spread them around evenly.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add buttermilk all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon from the outside edge of the bowl inward, turning the bowl as you incorporate the buttermilk with the other ingredients. When it starts to hold together in a ball, flour your hands and knead very briefly (4 or 5 times), just enough to even out the dough into a smooth ball. Sprinkle the outside with flour if necessary to keep it from sticking, but don't add much more flour at this point, or mix very much longer.
Form into a round loaf, place in prepared pie plate, and pat down lightly to extend all the way to the pan's edges. Use a knife to cut a cross into the top of the loaf. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove loaf from the baking dish, wrap it in a clean tea towel, and lean it up against something so that the air can circulate around it as it cools. This keeps the crust from being either too hard or too soggy.