Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
In a large mixing bowl sift in the flour and bread soda, add the salt, sugar, and sultanas. Mix well by lifting the flour and fruit up in to your hands and then letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers. This adds more air and therefore hopefully more lightness to your finished bread. Now make a well in the center of the flour. Break the egg into the bottom of your measuring jug, and add the buttermilk to the14 fluid ounce (425 milliliter) line (your egg is part of your liquid measurement). Pour most of this milk and egg into the flour. Using 1 hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. The trick with spotted dick like all soda breads is not to over mix the dough. Mix it as quickly and as gently as possible thus keeping it light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands.
With floured fingers roll lightly for a few seconds just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round, pressing to about 2-inch (6 centimeter) in height. Place the dough on a baking tray dusted lightly with flour. With a sharp knife cut a deep cross on it, let the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Prick with knife at the 4 triangles as according to Irish Folklore this is to let the fairies out!
Put in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 35 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt about the bread being cooked, tap the bottom: if it is cooked it will sound hollow. Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter and jam. Spotted Dick is also really good eaten with cheese.
This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The FN chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.
Note: an Irish tablespoon is the same quantity as an American tablespoon plus a teaspoon.
Recipe courtesy of Darina Allen