Railway cake (or spotted dog) is a traditional Irish sweet cake, or soda bread, that features raisins or other dried fruits! This delicious quick bread can be thrown together in a flash and is the perfect pairing to a hearty Irish dinner or St. Patrick's day meal!
¾cupraisins(or golden raisins (sultanas), or dried currants)
Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C) and generously grease or spray an 8 inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. *I prefer to use the 2-inch deep cake pans, with a second pan to add as a lid. This simulates the bastibles that Irish soda bread and railway cakes were baked in originally.
Sift your all-purpose flour into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) then add the baking soda, sugar, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients together then form a well in the center of the bowl.
Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in your measuring cup. Add the raisins to the well in the middle of your dry ingredient, then pour the buttermilk and egg combo in as well. Mix until just combined. You do not want to keep working your dough!
¾ cup raisins, 1 ¼ cup buttermilk, 1 large egg
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pull any pieces together, shaping it into your 1 ½-2 inch tall round loaf. Transfer the rounded dough to your baking pan or baking sheet.
Use a sharp knife (or a bread makers lame) cut a cross over the top of the loaf to make 4 quarters. Use your index finger and poke a hole into each of the quarters.
If you have a second 8-inch cake pan, use it to cover the first pan to replicate the bastible style cooking method originally used with this type of soda bread.
Bake at 400°F (205°C) for 30 minutes then remove the top cake pan, if using. Continue baking an additional 15 minutes. The bread is done when the top is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped.
Remove the loaf from your baking pan and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool slightly before serving.
You can use a variety of different dried fruits depending on what you have on hand. The raisins, sultanas, and currants were commonly used in this recipe, but dried cherries, cut dried apricot, chopped dates, or a combination would also be tasty!
If you don't have the 8-inch cake pans, your loaf can also be baked on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Cutting the cross into the top of the bread (like an Irish soda bread loaf) was done to bless the bread. Poking the holes into each quarter lets the steam escape while cooking, but was also believed to let the fairies escape. Fun stuff!