Preheat your oven to 220*C/425*F/Gas 7
1lb/450g plain flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
4oz/113g currants or sultanas if you prefer
1 tsp bread-soda (level)
2 tsps vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (not essence!)
12-15 fluid ozs/350-425ml buttermilk (absorption of liquid varies with different flours, so start with smaller amount)
Combine all the dry ingredients including the fruit, making sure to sieve the breadsoda to distribute well, as it can be lumpy.
Pour in the milk, about 12ozs/350mls. Add vanilla and mix well with your hand. You will know if more liquid is needed – aim for a nice, soft dough but not too wet and sticky. Form into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead briefly with the heel of your hand. Form into a nice round shape, not too shallow. Brush with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with some sugar. Then into your hot oven for just 15 minutes – then reduce the heat to 200*C/400*F/Gas 6 for a further 30 minutes. The underside will be hollow when tapped. Cool on a rack (if you can resist) before cutting a slice for the cook and slathering it with butter. If you don’t eat it all on the day, toast any left-overs and smother with butter and jam – need I say more???