Irish Soda Bread with Fennel Seeds topped with Irish Cheddar


4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants

4 cups organic sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon dry cinnamon

1 cup dry currants

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken

1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/3 cup Grand Marnier (or enough to soak the currants)

grated Irish cheddar cheese for sprinkle on top bread 



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into flour

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together in measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine Grand Marnier soaked currants and fennel seeds with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough into well-floured board and kneed it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. The cheese will be browned.



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