Basic Soda Bread from The Bake-Off Flunkie
 
From Diane Duane of EuropeanCuisines.com, complete with very detailed instructions and how-to videos. My advice is to watch the videos, even if you don't think you need to. My first try at the bread was a flop. Then I went back and watched the videos. "Oh, that's what I did wrong..." Somethings you just need to see. My second try was a complete success, thanks to her well-done video tutorials. Thanks, Diane!
 
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3-1 1/2 cups buttermilk
 
1. Heat your oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
 
2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the buttermilk and whisk it quickly with a fork. (Start with 1 1/3 cup of the buttermilk, and add the rest if it looks like you need it.) The dough should look "raggy"; Diane says, "You are trying to achieve a dough that is raggy and very soft, but the lumps and rags of it should look dryish and "floury", while still being extremely squishy if you poke them."
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gather the dough and knead it a few times, just enough to get it into a ball that holds together (a minute a most). Use a very sharp knife to make criss-crossing cuts in the top; the cuts should go about half-way through. The cuts let the bread "flower" as it cooks.   

5. Cook the bread for 35-40 minutes, or until it's nicely browned, and sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. 

6. To get a softer crust, wrap the hot bread in a clean dish towel while it cools (sometimes I help it along by putting the towel-wrapped bread in a plastic bag).
 
I absolutely recommend you go and read all of Diane's post about her soda bread (and watch the videos). She has a ton of really great information that will help you get the bread just right.
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