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Raisin soda breads

Makes 2 loaves

The baking sheet that holds these soda breads must be heavy or the bottoms may brown before the interiors are baked through.

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups thick buttermilk
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
Extra flour (for sprinkling)
2 extra tablespoons granulated or crystallized sugar (for sprinkling)
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and nutmeg. Scatter the chunks of butter over the flour and, using a pastry blender or two blunt knives, cut the fat into the flour until it reduces to pea-size bits.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Pour the liquids over the flour mixture and scatter the raisins on top. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture to form a moist dough. Knead the dough lightly in the bowl for 15 seconds.

4. On a lightly floured counter, divide the dough in half. Form each half into a well-domed ball measuring 5 to 5 1/2 inches in diameter. Place each ball on the baking sheet, spacing them about 5 inches apart. With a small, sharp knife, slash the top in the shape of a cross ( 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep). Sprinkle the top of each dough ball with 1 tablespoon granulated or crystallized sugar.

5. Bake the breads for 40 minutes or until they are set and golden. Transfer to wire racks and cool for 30 minutes. Lisa Yockelson Notes:

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