Bridie McEntee’s Irish Bread

     Recipe as written by Bridie's daughter, Mary Cusack, for the Sonoma Index Tribune. It won first prize in their cooking contest (July 22, 1981). Betty Adams recently shared the recipe with me. (This is the same Betty Adams that also provided Betty & Tee’s Tunisian Almond-Orange Cake recipe + she also provided the photo.)
     I have added my notes in italic. And, I actually cut the recipe in half – baked it in an 8 1/2” diameter Dutch Oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was so fragrant as it baked we could hardly wait until it was out of the oven. The bread was as good as it smelled - delicious! Barry even commented, “This tastes kind of like a scone.”

Photo courtesy of Betty Adams.
2 cups raisins
1 apple sliced thin (I peeled it)
1 cup granulated sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 level teaspoons salt
5 teaspoons baking powder (or convert it to 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons)
1 stick (1/2 cup or 1/4 lb.) butter or margarine
2 eggs beaten well
1 cup milk* @ room temperature 
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
l/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon granulated sugar to glaze top, optional

1.  Wash raisins – let drain (I added a little water to the raisins and let them plump while proceeding with the recipe; their was very little water to drain off ). Cut up apple small and add to raisins. 
2.   Sift sugar, flour, salt, baking powder into large bowl. (For some reason I try to avoid using a sifter – instead I put a fine mesh colander over my mixing bowl and measure the ingredients and push them through with a silicon spatula; this mixes the ingredients, breaks up any possible lumps and also aerates the mixture to some degree.)
3.  Roll stick of butter into flour and then cut with knife into small pieces, rolling butter in flour now and then to make it easy to cut. Use your hands to smooth out the butter in flour. You get better results if you use your fingertips going from bottom to top of mixture.  (I cut the butter into chunks before adding the to flour mixture and then just used my fingers and rubbed the butter into the flour until it was coarse and mealy in consistency. This is often the method used for making scones.)
4.  Beat up eggs, then add milk, cream of tartar and baking soda. Mix well and then add to flour, a little at a time —go from sides to middle around the bowl. (I used a fork to mix the liquid into the flour.) It should not be too moist. (However, I needed just a bit more milk in order to moisten all the flour.) Then fold in raisins and apples.
5.  Grease and flour a Dutch Oven (should have a tight cover); add the dough to prepared pan. (I rounded it up with my hands and then gently placed it in the pan.)
6.  Sprinkle top of loaf with 1 tablespoon sugar for a a nice glazed top. Cover and bake in preheated 350° for l l/2 to 2 hours. Use toothpick to test for doneness.  Remove pan to cooling rack and let stand 25 to 30 min. 
7.  Remove bread and place on cooling rack. When slightly cooled, cut loaf in half to serve and then cut halves into 1” slices. Serve with butter, jam, jelly or just plain. I suggest So-Easy Apple Butter as an accompaniment.

*I had some buttermilk on hand that needed to be used and since I knew that buttermilk or soured milk is often called for in soda bread recipes I used it in place of the sweet milk called for in the recipe. I then omitted the cream of tarter (an acid) since it is in the recipe to react with the baking soda and create the bubbling action need to activate the soda. (Buttermilk is acidic and naturally creates the same reaction when added to the baking soda.)

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