Soda bread with golden raisins

(food styling/sheryl julian; wiqan ang for the boston globe)
By Sheryl Julian & Julie Riven
March 11, 2009

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Makes 2

A little whole-wheat flour stirred into all-purpose flour makes soda breads with more heft and less cakey quality than ordinary white breads. Golden raisins add plenty of sweetness (Trader Joe's sells a raisin medley with golden, light, flame, and jumbo raisins that's ideal here). The dough is mixed with canola oil, which makes a moist-textured bread. Serve this as a mid-afternoon snack with tea, for breakfast, or slice thinly and eat with smoked turkey or ham.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 cups golden raisins
Extra all-purpose flour (for sprinkling)
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. With a wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients until they are blended.

3. In another bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the buttermilk, oil, and raisins. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until the mixture comes together to form a dough.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it gently several times until smooth. Divide the dough in half and shape each into a ball. Pinch the edges into the center and turn the balls over so the tops are smooth. Set them, smooth sides up, on the baking sheet, leaving at least 4 inches between them.

5. With a paring knife, mark a 3/4-inch-deep cross on the top of each round. Bake the breads for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are puffed and browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

6. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into thick slices for serving.