Monday, August 19, 2013

Adventures in Baking: Irish Brown Soda Bread.

I rarely buy sliced bread anymore. I still buy whole wheat thin bagels, which are excellent for my Breakfast Power Sammich; and I buy whole grain English muffins, which I love for my healthier eggs Benedict. But I don't buy sandwich bread anymore. Instead I'll bake biscuits and loaves of bread. I'll let them cool completely to prevent mold, and store them in the bags of past store-bought baked goods.

Today I finally tried this recipe; I would have tried it sooner, but I didn't have buttermilk. The only adjustment I made was the addition of flax seed; needless to say, the extra dry ingredient meant I ended up having to add a little extra liquid to compensate, so I am adjusting the recipe accordingly.

I use flax seed in a lot of things: brownies, corn muffins, pancakes, scrambled eggs. It's a nice little fiber, protein, and healthy fat boost.

This is one of those recipes that makes me want a Kitchen Aid mixer with all of the accoutrements. I'll explain why further down.

Our ingredients!
4 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used organic, unbleached.)
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-1/4 cups buttermilk (I used lowfat; it was all they had at the store.)
4 tbsp flax seed
This is what I was attempting to replicate.
Here is my trusty old stand mixer. I've had it for 8 years. It only comes with two sets of attachments; the default ones for cake batter and the like, and they curly doohickies. These are the ones I use for bread. O, if I only I had a Kitchen Aid with the bread hook attachment!
I tend to be messy when measuring dry ingredients; I find this to be the easiest way to measure flour with a way to put the extra that falls out back into the bag.
The recipe tells you to mix until a ball forms. Well, without a dough hook, no ball will ever come from this mixer. I definitely struggled to form this loaf.

1. Preheat the over to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease your baking sheet. Combine your dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir in enough buttermilk to make a fairly soft dough. Turn onto a work surface dusted with whole wheat flour and knead lightly until smooth. (Unfortunately, nothing about it was "light"; I was attempting to get the crumbly bits to stick together.)
2. Form the dough into a circle, about 1-1/2 inch think. Lay on the baking sheet and mark a deep cross in the top with a floured knife.
3. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. (There was nothing hollow about mine.) Cool on a wire rack. If a soft crust is preferred (which was, in my case), wrap the loaf in a clean dishtowel while cooling.

Fordski approved. So I guess it was a success. Yay!

Adapted from "The Food & Cooking of Ireland", by Biddy White Lennon & Georgina Campbell
ISBN: 978-1-4351-4537-5 

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