Preheat the oven to 250deg C
Makes 1 loaf
450g (1lb, 31/2 cups) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300-600ml (1/2 - 1 pint, 1 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups) sour milk or buttermilk
Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre.
Pour in all the milk at once. Using 1 hand, with your fingers stiff and outstretched like a claw, stir in a full circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl in ever increasing circles. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands. Tidy it up and flip over gently. Pat the dough into a round, about 4cm deep.
Cut a deep cross on the loaf and prick in the four corners.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes then turn down to 200deg C for 30 minutes until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread, when it is cooked it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.
Tip! Soda breads are best eaten on the day they are made, but are still good the next day.
Follow the recipe above adding: 1 dessert spoon of sugar, 100g sultanas, 1 egg.
Add the sugar and the sultanas with the flour and drop the egg in with the milk before missing. Spotted dog is also called railway cake in some parts of Ireland.
Follow the spotted dog recipe replacing the sultanas with 75g of roughly chopped best quality chocolate.
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