Monday, January 31, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

I know a lot of you have been jonesing for the bread book, and all I can say is that it's coming. Patience people! In the mean time, here's a killer quick bread for you to try.

Great Irish Soda Bread should be more like a giant biscuit or scone than a sandwich bread. Crumbly, and with a satisfying hint of sweetness, it should have a solid feel that can stand up to a hearty stew. Normally that extra texture would come from the course milled flours used in traditional Irish baking, but wheat bran plus all-purpose and whole-wheat flours makes a delicious and easy to find substitute.

And the best part is how fast it all comes together. From the time you pull out the mixing bowl to the time you're slathering the bread with butter is just about two hours.

8 oz Whole wheat flour
1.5 oz Wheat bran
6.5 oz All-purpose flour
1 tsp Salt
1 1/8 tsp Baking Soda
2 tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Unsalted butter
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups Buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silipat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flours, bran, salt, baking soda and sugar together.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and work into the flour with your thumb and fingertips. Once all the butter has been incorporated, it should look gritty.
  4. Using a large wooden spoon, slowly mix in 1 1/4 cups of the buttermilk. The dough should be rather wet and sticky. If it seems a bit dry, add the remaining buttermilk. Mix until all the milk is absorbed and it comes together in a large ball.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 10 to 12 times, until the dough smooths out. Because this is such a wet dough, a bencher is very handy. Otherwise, keep your hands wet in order to avoid sticking, and get ready to get messy.
  6. Form into a large round, about 7-inches in diameter and about two inches high. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. With a sharp knife, score a large 'X' onto the top of the bread.
  8. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until the outside is a deep, golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 180 F.
  9. Set on a cooling rack and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let sit for 45 minutes and dig in!
Hope you enjoy it. Let me know how it works for you.

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