Ready in less than an hour, Irish soda bread is one of the fastest and easiest breads you can make. A slash on top of the loaf gives it a rustic appearance and helps it bake evenly--and, as legend has it, allows the fairies or the devil to escape.
cup dried currants or raisins 1/2 cup hot brewed black tea 2 teaspoons caraway seeds 1 cup all-purpose flour 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup buttermilk 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar 1 tablespoon melted butter or vegetable oil 1. Heat oven to 425°F. Spray 9-inch pie pan or small baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine currants and tea in small bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Drain, pressing out excess moisture.
Crush caraway seeds on cutting board with bottom of saucepan to release fragrance.
Whisk all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Stir in currants and caraway seeds.
Combine buttermilk, brown sugar and butter in glass measuring cup. With fork, gradually stir into flour mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Knead dough several times on lightly floured surface. Shape into a ball; place in pan. Flatten to a height of 1 1/2 to 2 inches; dust lightly with flour. With serrated knife, make 1/2-inch-deep crisscross slash on top of bread.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until bread is golden brown, sounds hollow when bottom is tapped and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly on wire rack before slicing.
(10-slice) loaf PER SLICE: 125 calories, 1.5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 3.5 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 4 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 2 g fiber VARIATIONS Irish Soda Bread with Figs and Hazelnuts: Substitute 1/2 cup chopped dried figs, 1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts and 2 teaspoons grated orange peel for currants and caraway seeds.
Irish Soda Bread with Dried Cherries and Chocolate Chips: Substitute 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries, 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons grated orange peel for currants and caraway seeds.
Irish Soda Bread with Dried Apricots and Ginger: Substitute 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger and 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel for currants and caraway seeds.
Irish Soda Bread with Dates and Walnuts: Substitute 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates, 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts and 2 teaspoons grated orange peel for currants and caraway seeds.
Irish Soda Bread with Parmesan and Rosemary: Substitute 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary for currants and caraway seeds. Omit tea. Decrease brown sugar to 1 tablespoon. Use extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter.
Irish Soda Bread with Cheddar and Onion: Substitute 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper for currants. Omit tea. Decrease brown sugar to 1 tablespoon.
Irish Soda Bread with Onion and Dill: Substitute 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1 tablespoon dill seeds for currants and caraway seeds. Omit tea. Increase salt to 1 teaspoon. Decrease brown sugar to 1 tablespoon.