First blogged about here.
Doesn't this look fabulous? It was! Very dense and moist with a great crust. This recipe is from A Little Irish Cookbook from Appletree Press. This recipe is a keeper! I've added my comments with brackets.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar (optional) [not optional]
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk [buttermilk]
Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Scoop up handfuls and allow to drop back into the bowl to aerate the mixture. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough [I used about 1 3/4 cups]. Now work quickly as the buttermilk and soda are already reacting. Knead the dough lightly - too much handling will toughen it, while too little means it won't rise properly.
Form a round loaf about as thick as your fist [if your fist is as big as the jolly green giants--this was about the size of 4 of my fists]. Place it on a lightly-floured baking sheet and cut a cross in the top with a floured knife. Put at once to bake near the top of a pre-heated oven, 450°F, for 30-45 minutes [30 minutes]. When baked, the loaf will sound hollow when rapped on the bottom with your knuckles. Wrap immediately in a clean tea-towel to stop the crust hardening too much.