Diced Prunes soaked in tea adds a new flavor dimension to classic Irish-American soda bread. The tannins in the tea draw out the molasses flavor in the prunes. Serve this bread with jam and butter or Cheddar and honey.
Yield: 2 rounds of bread
215 g / 1 cup black tea, brewed strong and cooled
135 g / 1 cup Diced Dried Plums
470 g / 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
95 g / 1/2 cup sugar
15 g /1/3 cup unprocessed wheat bran
8 g / 2 teaspoons baking powder
4 g / 1 teaspoon baking soda
4 g / 1 teaspoon kosher salt
57 g / 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
240 g / 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 large egg
30 g / 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted (optional)
Pour the tea over the prunes and soak for 15 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain well.
Preheat an oven to 350F [180C]. Oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your hands, blend the unsalted butter into the flour until it forms a crumbly mixture.
In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Gradually stir the buttermilk into the flour and butter and mix just until a tacky dough forms. Gently fold the prunes into the dough.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured counter and knead until it is no longer sticky. Cut in half and pat each half into a round. Put the rounds on opposite ends of the prepared baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut an X on the top of each round.
Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 35 minutes for the smaller rounds and 50 minutes for a large round. Transfer to a cooling rack. While the bread is cooling, brush salted butter on top.