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Mary Watson's Amazing Irish Soda Bread

Note:  Mary is Irish to the core and she cautions me to insist on using buttermilk.  But sometimes it's necessary to substitute: add 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar, cider vinegar, or lemon juice per cup of regular milk.  Let stand 5 to 10 minutes, then stir before using. 


4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
one egg, slightly beaten

1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 ½ tablespoons sour cream (light or regular, not nonfat)
¾ cup raisins, currents, nuts, or dried cranberries.



Preheat oven to 200 Celsius / 400 Fahrenheit degrees.
Before measuring the flour, sift it or fluff it by stirring with a whisk or fork.  Then spoon it gently into the measuring cup and level the top. 
Stir all the dry ingredients together, using a whisk if you have one.
Cut cold butter into the dry ingredients until only tiny bits of it remain.
Stir in dried fruit if using.
Whisk the wet ingredients together or mix well with a fork.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid into the well.
Mix with a fork, starting in the middle and gradually incorporating all the flour mixture.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board, silpat, or counter top and knead for about one minute.  (It will be moist and sticky.)
Shape into a round a little smaller than a cake pan.
Place on a baking sheet or buttered cake pan.
With a sharp knife, cut a shallow cross in the surface.
Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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