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This simple, slightly crunchy cake needs only a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Makes 1 loaf
Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced).
In a large mixing bowl, sieve in the flour and bicarbonate of soda; then add the salt, sugar and sultanas. Mix well by lifting the flour and fruit up in to your hands and then letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers. This adds more air and therefore more lightness to your finished bread.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Break the egg into the base of a measuring jug and add the buttermilk to the 425ml (14 fl oz/1¾ cup) line (the egg is part of the liquid measurement). Pour most of this milk and egg mixture into the flour.
Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour mixture from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet and sticky.
The trick with Spotted Dog, like all soda breads, is not to over mix the dough. Mix it as quickly and gently as possible, thus keeping it light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Wash and dry your hands. With floured fingers, roll the dough lightly for a few seconds – just enough to tidy it up. Then pat the dough into a round about 6cm (2 ½ inches) deep. Transfer to a baking tray dusted lightly with flour. Use a sharp knife to cut a deep cross on it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Prick with knife at the four triangles. Put into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Cook for 35-40 minutes. If you are in doubt about the bread being cooked, tap the bottom. If it is cooked it will sound hollow. This bread is cooked at a lower temperature than soda bread because the egg browns faster at a higher heat.
Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter and jam. Spotted Dog is also very good eaten with cheddar cheese.
Top tip: Wholemeal flour can be used in place of the plain white flour for a brown spotted dog.:
Recipe by Darina Allen from Ballymaloe Cookery School
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