Monday, March 10, 2014

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Dave and I went to Ireland last year for a belated honeymoon (hey, better 4 years late than never!). While there we really enjoyed the food. Like for real. And one of our favorite finds was this brown bread. It's soft but with a gently crusty edge. The flavors are nutty and hearty. It's the perfect bread warmed with a pat of sweet cream butter or for dipping into a hearty bowl of stew. We found a little corner coffee shop/deli in Bray that we ended up getting a few meals from and each time I had the option, I went with the brown bread. I'm so glad to have finally found a recipe to enjoy it again!

One of my coworkers, Kate (not to be confused with my friend Kate who sends me meatloaf recipes), shared this recipe with me after a discussion on the merits of brown bread compared to the traditional Irish soda bread. I know she got it from her sister in law, but I'm otherwise uncertain of the origins of this bread. Regardless, it's awesome and I was pleased to have everything I needed for it in my pantry. I really wish I would have had the recipe earlier this winter to enjoy with all my chilis, soups and stews, but now that it's in my repertoire I'll be making up for lost time. I used skim milk plus vinegar for my buttermilk but otherwise I didn't change anything on the recipe. If you can find the wheat bran and wheat germ already toasted, that will save you a step, but it's not hard to toast it up quickly. Since I baked it in the toaster over, the time was a little shorter, but not drastically so. This loaf will probably be gone in a day or so, consider yourself warned!

Irish Brown Soda Bread


1 3/4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons wheat bran, toasted
3 Tablespoons wheat germ, toasted
2 Tablespoons oats
2 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups buttermilk (or 1 Tablespoon vinegar plus milk to measure 2 cups)

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, wheat bran, wheat germ, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Note: If wheat bran and/or wheat germ are not toasted, spread out on a small baking sheet and toast lightly at 300 degrees for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.

Cut butter into small cubes then refrigerate to harden. Once chilled again, cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the mixture is fine and mealy. Stir in buttermilk 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 35-40 minutes until dark brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing from pan and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with stews or alone with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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