The fecipe could hardly be simpler, and the main concern is not to overmix the dough or it will result in a loaf for tough than tender. The flattened shape keeps this bread from being doughy in the center, and the cross cut in the top keeps it from cracking during baking. I've heard people say that you cut the cross to let the devil out, but how would the devil get into your buttermilk anyway?
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine completely. Make a well in the center and pour in most of the buttermilk. Stir, adding the remaining buttermilk as needed to make a loose dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly, just enough to make the dough hold together. Place dough on a lightly greased baking sheet and form into a flattened round, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut a cross in the center of the tops using a sharp knife dipped in flour. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on both top and bottom. Remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack. Cover with a clean, dry towel and let cool slowly.