I’ve made proper soda bread for this blog before but this has come to be my favorite version, and this one is tarted up with currants, butter and egg. SO BE IT because it is very good. This is also a great bread to give as a gift, and I have split up one batch to make three smaller loaves and done just that. (These are especially convenient for baked gifts; you can usually find them on clearance right after the Christmas holiday.)
I can’t remember now why I stumbled across this particular recipe, only that it’s difficult to go wrong with Ina Garten and that’s likely why I decided to try it. I will say that even though it says right there in black and white that the dough (really, it’s practically batter) “will be very wet” I was still initially pretty irritated with how gloppy it really is. The first time I made this, I tried to follow instructions and mound it on a parchment-covered baking stone. It spread out so pitifully that I quickly dumped it into a loaf tin and that is how I have made it ever since. Now that I “know” the recipe a bit better I could possibly manage to do it Ina’s way, but why? I like a loaf shaped bread and this hasn’t failed me yet.
My method for handling this dough (batter!!!) is to turn it out onto a very well floured surface, be that my countertop or a plastic cutting mat, and then to do all the kneading with a bench scraper. (You could buy that nice one linked there, but why would I do that when I have a dumb plastic version I got for free in a swag bag at an event probably 10 years ago?) I flour the scraper first and then just kind of push the dough around, folding it over on itself until it has achieved a pleasing shape and consistency. Then I flop the whole thing into a greased loaf pan and put it in the oven.
I would say this recipe is fairly fool-proof; I don’t even use a mixer as instructed, just a spoon or spatula. As long as you get all the dry bits mixed properly and don’t overwork it, it’s all good.