Diced prunes soaked in tea add new flavor dimensions to classic Irish-American soda bread. The tannins in the tea draw out the sweetness in the prunes. Serve this bread with jam and butter or Cheddar and honey.
Pour the tea over the prunes and soak at room temperature until plumped up (5 minutes for Prune Bits and 15 minutes for Diced Prunes). Drain well.
Preheat an oven to 350F [180C]. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, bran, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your hands, blend the unsalted butter into the flour until it forms a crumbly mixture.
In a 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 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. Transfer to a cooling rack. While the bread is cooling, brush salted butter on top, if desired.
215 g / 1 cup black tea, brewed strong and cooled to room temperature
470 g / 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
95 g / 1/2 cup sugar
15 g /1/3 cup wheat bran (optional)
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)