Dinner was about 40 minutes away. What to do?
Then I thought about Irish Soda Bread and looked up a recipe.
Here's the blueprint:
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter
2 cups buttermilk
Notice for a change I've included quantities. Usually for "regular" cooking I can find my way with just the ingredients and not much of a guide on quantities, but when it comes to baking that's a whole 'nother story!
Baking is an art and if you're not a baking artist (include me in that category) then it's best to go with an exact recipe and follow it as closely as possible.
Soda bread is a so-called "quick" bread because it doesn't use yeast and, thus, does not need to rise. The rising happens in the oven. Carbon dioxide bubbles are created by the reaction of baking soda and the acidic buttermilk, which is why I added the Real Lemon to ordinary milk; boost the acidity of the milk.
I didn't have any buttermilk so I simulated buttermilk by adding a couple of tablespoons of Real Lemon juice to two cups of milk. That seemed to do the trick.
Here's the basic procedure:
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the consistency is like bread crumbs. I ended up adding an extra tablespoon of butter to get the desired consistency. Make a well in the center and mix in the egg. Then mix in the buttermilk a bit at a time stirring to combine. The resulting mixture should be a stiff dough.
Mine ended up not so stiff and I probably should have added more flour. I'll try that next time.
Knead the mixture briefly but not as much as you would do a yeast dough, but more than you'd do for muffin batter. I ended up with a somewhat sticky mess that I covered with flour so it wouldn't stick to my hands.
Transfer the dough to a greased cast iron skillet or baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes at 425.
My bread took about 45 minutes to cook through and even so it was a little moist in the middle. I probably should have added more baking powder or kneaded the mixture more.
In any case, the bread turned out OK and it was certainly crusty enough. Better yet, it was quick and provided the crustiness I needed.
Other recipes for Irish Soda bread call for raisins or caraway seeds, but for my needs a plain bread was perfect.