Irish Brown Bread

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Last year I posted my grandmother’s Irish soda bread recipe for St. Patrick’s Day and it has been the most popular recipe on this site ever since. I never would have guessed. Anyway, the other day I came across a soda bread recipe in The Art of Simple Food. Simple it is, without the butter, sugar, and raisins of the American version. When I noticed the whole wheat variation at the bottom of the page, I remembered the delicious brown bread they sold at the Irish butcher shop down the block from my old apartment in Queens. I had to try it. It’s rather austere compared to the Irish soda bread we are used to, but hearty  and delicious none the less. This bread is at it’s  best slathered with butter while it’s still warm, though it also toasts up nicely on the second day.

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Brown Bread adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cultured buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Oil a small dutch oven or cast iron skillet.

In a large bowl stir together the flours, salt, and baking soda. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk. Stir, adding more buttermilk if needed, until all of the flour is incorporated. The dough will be pretty scrappy. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two, just until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a round and place in the pan. Sprinkle a bench scrapper or a large knife with flour and cut a deep cross in the dough, as if you were going to divide the dough into four pieces.

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes more, until the loaf is nicely browned and sounds hollow when you knock on it.

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