Be forewarned: this traditional recipe has been known to produce mystical visions and lively dreams, especially on nights of the full moon. Some Irish country folk have sworn they could see pigs fly and cows smile in the aftermath of partaking of this hearty loaf. While the freshly baked bread is delicious, even two to three days later, the ingredients seem to undergo some mysterious alchemy which has been known to transport the unsuspecting into raptures of tears and singing. For this reason, it is a favorite nourishment at weddings, especially when consumed with liberal pints of the national drink of Ireland, Guinness. Lively dancing, even among the aged, is known to ensue.
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
2. In a sauce pan, pour two cups of water, bring to a boil.
3. Immerse raisins in the water for only 2 minutes. Drain and put aside.
4. Sift 4 cups of flour into a large bowl. Add soda, salt and sugar.
5. In a separate bowl, combine vinegar and milk. Set aside.
6. Add shortening to the bowl containing the flour, blend the shortening with a fork.
7. To this flour bowl, now gently stir in caraway seeds and then the drained raisins.
8. Now, finally, add the vinegar and milk combination to the flour bowl and patiently stir the combination.
9. After awhile, take the dough and knead carefully for 5-10 minutes with loving hands. Turn the kneaded mass into a greased circular baking pan (9 inches x 1 & 1/2 inches) and bake at 375 degrees from 45-55 minutes or until a golden brown. Check with a knife which, when the knife is withdrawn, should come out dry.
10. Let cool for 4-6 hours.
11. Serve with tea and, preferably, Kerry Gold Irish Butter. Give thanks and praises!