This is the most perfect Irish soda bread imaginable. My son Danny’s friends couldn’t get over how great it was.
2 cups flour (I use organic unbleached flour, preferably King Arthur or Whole Foods brand)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder (I use aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, from the fridge is fine
2 eggs (1 extra large for the bread; the other can be any size egg to be mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, half and half, or light cream for brushing on top of the bread before baking)
3/4 cup buttermilk (I usually use Friendship, which is 1.5%)
1/3 cup raisins (I try to use the most amazing raisins, which I get at Whole Foods (they are Sunview Organically Grown Black Seedless)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter with a knife into cubes, and add to bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender until crumbly. Then take the raisins (if you are using the ones mentioned above, you’ll want to chop them up just a bit because they are larger than normal raisins) and add them to the flour mixture. In a small bowl, combine the one extra large egg with buttermilk and then pour into flour and butter mixture. Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture just until moistened. Take a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle a little flour on it. Dump your dough onto the paper, and sprinkle just about 1 teaspoon of flour on top of it. Gently knead 1 or 2 times. Knead on a well-floured surface with just 2 or three motions. You don’t want to overwork the dough. Grease a cookie sheet with butter, and take the dough onto the cookie sheet, and shape it into a round loaf about 10 inches in diameter. With a knife, make a X indentation in the loaf. Mix the Shape dough into a round loag; place on a greased baking sheet. Cut a 1/4″-deep cross in the top of the loaf. Brush egg wash over loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. You will know the loaf is done when you put a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.
Serve right out of oven with butter. Or eat later and heat up in microwave or in toaster.