3 1/2 cups flour -either cake flour or all-purpose (cake flour works better.)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
8-10 fluid ounces sour milk, buttermilk, or plain ("sweet") milk, to mix
(Note:"Sour milk" is milk with a couple of teaspoons of buttermilk stirred into it, placed in a container, wrapped in a towel
and left at about 75 degrees F for 24 hours.
The original Irish name is bainne clabhair (BAHN-yeh clavAIR), "clabbered milk",
or "bonnyclabber" to the the Scots. Buttermilk will do if you cannot take the time for "sour milk." Sweet or plain milk can be used: add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the recipe.
Another way is to add 1teaspoon of vinegare to the the sweet milk.
1. Sift the dry ingredients together several times to make sure the bicarb is evenly distributed.
2. Put the sifted dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
3. Pour about three-quarters of the buttermilk or sour milk in and stir. You want a dough that is raggy and very soft,
but the lumps and rags of it should look dryish and "floury", but still "squishy" if you poke them. Add more liquid CAREFULLY if needed.
4. Turn the contents of the bowl out immediately onto a lightly floured board and knead.
5. Shape the bread.
6. For cake, flatten the lump of dough to a slightly domed circle or flat hemisphere about 6-8 inches in diameter,
and put it on the baking sheet (which should be dusted lightly with flour first).
7. Use a very sharp knife to cut a cross right across the circle: the cuts should go about halfway down the dough,
so that the loaf will "flower" properly.
8. Then bake for 10 minutes at 450F. Reduce heat to 400 for 30 minutes.