Nantucket Irish Soda Bread

Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
Approximate Yield: One loaf, approximately 2.5 pounds

Kitchen equipment needed:
1 ea. chef knife & 1 ea. paring knife
1 ea. set of measuring spoons & measuring cups
1 ea. pair oven mitts
1 ea. large wooden spatula
2 ea. medium mixing bowl
1 ea. large cooking sheet
1 ea. Rubber spatula

4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup sun dried cranberries (raisins or currants optional)
2 tsp. fresh grated orange zest
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Step (1) preheat oven to 425°. Sift together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Using your (clean) fingers (or a pastry cutter), work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, like making a biscuit and then add in the sun dried cranberries and orange zest.

Steps (2) make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite dense (a little like a biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Dense is good.

Step (3) transfer dough to a large, lightly greased baking sheet pan or on parchment paper on baking  sheet pan  (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X” shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden brown, about 35-45 minutes. Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.