Stir together the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut the stick of butter into small pieces and add to dry mixture. Mix very thoroughly with your hands until it gets grainy. Stir in raisins if using.
Add 2 1/2 cups buttermilk and egg to the flour mixture. Stir until well moistened. Shape dough into 2 loaves and place in the greased pans.
Combine 1/4 cup butter milk and 1/4 cup melted butter in a separate bowl. Spread a light layer over the top of each loaf.
Bake for 1 hour. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Wrap in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Bread will last 2-3 days.
by The Savvy Kitchen