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[Photograph: Lis Parsons]

For many years, I assumed that Irish soda bread always meant a slightly sweet, caraway and currant laced bread easily mistaken for a giant muffin. Frankly, I never liked this version of the quick bread, much preferring to eat "real bread" with my soup. It's a good thing I was mistaken about the scope of soda breads.

Most of these loaves, like those featured in Rachel's Irish Family Food, are a much simpler (and more appealing) combination of flour, baking soda, and buttermilk. Rachel Allen's brown soda bread adds a bit more oomph with a hefty dose of whole wheat flour, a couple tablespoons of mixed seeds, and just a touch of butter. The resulting bread is an exemplary accompaniment to any number of soups, pickles, marmalades, or a generous swipe of butter.

Why I picked this recipe: You can't have an Irish feast without at least one loaf of soda bread.

What worked: Full-flavored from whole wheat flour and studded with oil-rich seeds, this quick bread was a winner.

What didn't: No problems with this easy recipe.

Suggested tweaks: You could mix in any number of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit to this dough. Keep it around 3 tablespoons for the best texture.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Rachel's Irish Family Food to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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