I've had soda bread 4 times in my life and each time the taste and texture were different. The first time it tasted heavily of baking soda and reminded me of a banana bread sans the bananas. The next time I had soda bread it was full of dried fruit and most closely resembled an Italian panatone. After that I tasted one that I'm pretty sure was a French Brioche that somebody tried to pass as a soda bread. This recipe constitutes the fourth and most recent version of soda bread I've had. The recipe has been in my recipe box since the late nineties but I've never bothered to make it. I think this version reminds me in taste, not texture of a large biscuit. It has a wonderful golden brown crust and a nice clean flavor. I've been slathering pieces of it with honey butter all week and it's absolutely divine! As for authenticity, who knows? Four versions, four different outcomes. I guess it's like the "American" apple pie. Everyone does it different and every version is authentic to someone.
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups bread flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened (plus more for basting)
1 cup buttermilk
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat in buttermilk and the egg until dough forms.
On a floured surface, shape dough into a round and cut an X into the top, using a sharp knife. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Baste lightly with melted butter.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. During baking baste once or twice more to improve crust color and texture.