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Mary Burke's Irish soda bread

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March 15, 2006

Makes 2 large loaves

This fine-crumbed bread has a beautifully crunchy crust and just a hint of sweetness.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup raisins
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter with a pastry blender or fork. Add the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix

Notes:

well with the blender or fork.

3. In another bowl, stir together the egg and buttermilk.

4. Make a well in the flour-butter mixture. Pour in the egg mixture. Mix gently but thoroughly. Stir in raisins.

5. Transfer the dough to the pans, dividing it evenly. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaves comes out clean.

7. Cool the loaves in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out of the pans and leave to cool completely.

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