18 March 2011
Brown soda bread
"But", you say, "St. Paddy's day was Thursday. I won't need this recipe for another year. You have terrible timing, blogging person."
To which I reply: "You only want fresh bread with dinner on St. Patrick's day?"
You might also complain about the lack of raisins. Then I'd say something about not wanting raisins in my dinner bread and you'd tell me that all the soda bread in the store has raisins and do I hate Ireland or St. Patrick or what?
Then I'd ask you what Ireland has to do with anything. Did I say Ireland? Did I say it was Irish Soda Bread? No, I did not. I said soda bread. I might also cast aspersions on the authenticity and quality of the "Irish" soda bread in the store.
But we should really skip all of that because we'd just end up mad at each other when really all I want to do is give you a loaf of this lovely simple bread and tell you to eat it with some nice butter, preferably unsalted and made from the milk of grass-fed cows. I want to give you this bread because it is simple, so simple that you can make it even if you have previously failed at yeasted bread, blueberry muffins AND banana bread. (If you have failed at all of those things, drop me a note and we'll see what we can do about that.) This bread is so simple I'm about to write the recipe without referring to my notes, my cookbooks or anything else. Srsly.
1 lb flour
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10-12 ounces buttermilk
What kind of flour? Doesn't matter. Cake flour through Whole Wheat will do just fine. They'll yield slightly different loaves, but they'll all be good. I used white whole wheat flour in the bread pictured above.
Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit.
Lightly flour a baking sheet and set aside.
Measure flour, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. It is important to distribute the baking soda evenly in the flour. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, stir until just combined. You're not trying to knead the dough, or make it smooth
at all, you're just trying to get all the flour wet.
Dump the dough onto the floured baking sheet and form into a disk with well-floured hands. Cut an X across the top with a sharp knife.
Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 and bake for another 20-30 minutes until it smells like bread and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Remove the bread from the oven and wrap it in a clean dish towel. Set it aside someplace safe from thieving housemates, spouses, children, pets, etc. for at least 30 minutes. Now is a good time to take the butter out of the fridge so it will be soft enough to spread.
After 30 minutes, slice, spread with butter and eat.
And if you really want raisins, by all means add a tablespoon of sugar and a handful or two of raisins. It makes an excellent breakfast bread or mid-afternoon snack (with a cup of tea, of course.)