Okay, so I couldn't resist doing one more week of the yeast-free bread series. The real reason I felt the need to write one last column on the subject? I realized I hadn't yet shared my favorite quick bread recipe of all: an Irish brown soda bread that my mother has made for years. Now, this is not the slightly sweet, raisin-studded bread you may be expecting. This soda bread is more rustic and hearty, and totally savory. It's made with a combination of white and whole wheat flour and oats, and toasted wheat germ gives the loaf a wonderful nutty depth. Buttermilk keeps the bread from being dry. I like thick slices of it smeared with lots of salted butter.
Irish Brown Soda Bread
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading and baking
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits
- 1 to 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425 degrees F. Sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with flour.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the butter and toss to coat in the flour. Use your fingers or two forks to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (You can also do this in the food processor if you'd like.) Gradually add the buttermilk and stir or pulse just until the dough comes together (you may not need all the buttermilk).
3. On a floured surface, knead the dough gently for about a minute until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to the baking sheet. Pat gently into a 7-inch round and sprinkle the top evenly with about a tablespoon of flour; with your fingertips, gently spread the flour evenly over the top of the round. Using a very sharp knife, cut a shallow "X" in the top of the loaf. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the loaf is brown, and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it. Cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before slicing.