Aired March 13, 2012
1/2 cup water or Irish whisky
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing the pan
2 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350F.
Bring a small pot or kettle of water to a boil. Place currants into a small bowl and cover with boiling water to reconstitute. Let stand until softened and plump, then drain. If using whisky, soak currants in whisky for about an hour. Drain and reserve.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add the butter; use your hands to incorporate it into the flour mixture into large-sized crumbs. Mix in reconstituted currants, caraway seeds and orange zest.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs, and add to dry mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir the dough until incorporated, making sure not to over-mix.
Grease the inside of a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with butter. Place the dough into the skillet and smooth out the top. Cut a deep X into the top of the dough.
Bake bread until deeply golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Leave bread in the skillet to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the skillet and allow to cool completely.