This is a cross between bread and cake, and is usually eaten spread thickly with butter. It is also very good toasted.
All the comments made in the recipe for white soda bread about the choice of ingredients, especially the flour and buttermilk, and the need for very careful handling of the dough apply equally here, so if you have not seen them, please take a look before you begin.
Spotted Dog doesn’t keep very well, so make it the day you need it – there won’t be a problem with leftovers! If you want a longer lasting Irish fruit cake/bread, make Tea Brack instead.
|3½ cups||1lb||450g||Irish white flour or unbleached flour|
|½ cup||3oz||80g||Mixed raisins and sultanas|
|3 teaspoons||1 tablespoon||Castor sugar|
|½ teaspoon||1 level teaspoon||Bread soda (Bicarbonate of Soda)|
|½ teaspoon||1 level teaspoon||Salt|
|2 cups||¾ pint||0.5 litres||Buttermilk or sour milk|
Preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC/Gas Mark 8). Do not start until the oven is hot.
Sieve the flour, bread soda, salt and about 2/3rds of the sugar into a large bowl and mix in the fruit. Whisk about 2/3rds of the milk together with the egg and pour into the flour mixture. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in almost all of the milk and egg mixture. Quickly and with a light touch bring the flour in from the edges and mix with the milk, until all the ingredients come together into a dough.
Use your hands, not a spoon or mixer. Work quickly and lightly.
The dough should be soft rather than wet or sticky. If it is too dry add a little more of the milk and egg mix or the of the remaining buttermilk. Once it has come together, do not knead, just place it on a floured wooden board, pick up a handful of flour and rub it into the palms of your hands so that they are perfectly dry, and and then shape the dough into a round about 2 inches thick.
Brush the top of the dough with some of the remaining milk and sprinkle the rest of the sugar over it. Cut a deep cross on the top of the dough.
Put the bread into the oven immediately. After 5 minutes turn the oven down to 400ºF (200ºC/regulo 6). The initial high temperature gives the bread a nice brown crust. After another 25 minutes take the bread out and knock on the base. If it sounds hollow it is done, if not return it to the oven for about 5 minutes and then check again.
Eat the day of baking or toast it the following day.