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Best Bread Houston 2004 -

Central Market's Irish soda bread Weighing in at well over a pound, the Irish soda bread at Central Market ($2.49) is an extremely dense, hearty and heavy loaf, especially since it's compact in size -- about that of a deflated volleyball. It's leavened with baking soda (hence its name) and mixed with buttermilk, which adds silkiness to its texture. Fissures on the top of the loaf allow for easy dismantling, so you can rip into it before you even get to the car. These fissures come from the cross-shaped cut in the bread, which dates back to early medieval times when the symbol was sliced in to ward away the devil. Central Market's version contains raisins along with caraway seeds, for an inviting mix of salty and sweet.

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