Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Brown Soda Bread

**Edited to add: Here's a link to another recipe for Irish brown bread that looks good. It makes it in a loaf pan, so if that's more what you're looking for, it might be just the thing. I haven't tried it yet, so if you do, let us know how it is!

**Edited later: This stales quickly, so don't plan on making it on the weekend & then serving it on Tuesday or something. It's best used the day it's made.

**2011 St. Patrick's Day edit: Here are the approximate amounts for a one-third-sized loaf, which is what's baking in my oven right now! 1 3/4 c. flour, 1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, & what ended up to be maybe 1 1/4 c. buttermilk - 1 c. wasn't enough so I kept adding a bit at a time until it stuck together. Remember to reduce baking time since it's a lot smaller than the original!

As requested by Pusher, here's the recipe for Brown Soda Bread from The Ballymaloe Bread Book with what notes I remember, since I haven't made it for a while.

Makes: One large loaf [extremely large - I'd recommend halving the recipe or turning it into two]

Cooking time: 40-55 minutes

What you need:
  • 1 1/4 lb. brown wholemeal flour (*shrug* I haven't made it here... maybe whole wheat flour?)
  • 1 1/4 lb. plain white flour
  • 2 rounded teaspoons of salt
  • 2 rounded teaspoons bread soda [baking soda], finely sieved
  • 1 1/2 points buttermilk, approximately

[If you want to halve it, that'd be 10 oz. of each kind of flour, a single rounded teaspoon each of the salt and baking soda, and 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk.]

What you do:

Fully preheat the oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8.

Mix the flours, salt and bread soda together in a large, wide bowl.

Pour most of the milk into the middle of the flour. Using your hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix the ingredients in a full circle drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk of necessary, until the dough is softish, but not too wet. [Yeah, I use a spoon.]

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Then wash and dry your hands.

Tidy up the dough by lightly rolling it around with lightly floured hands. Then pat it gently into a round about 6 cm/2 in high.

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet, cut it across and prick it with your knife in the usual way.*

Bake in the fully preheated oven for 15-20 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 200C/400F/regulo 6 for a further 20-25 minutes. Turn the bread upside down on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before the end of baking. When the bread is cooked it will sound hollow when tapped.

Cool on a wire rack.

*Here's the "usual way" from the earlier recipe for White Soda Bread in the same book:
With a sharp knife cut a deep cross in it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Then prick the four triangles with your knife: according to Irish folklore this will let the fairies out!