Brown Bread (Irish Whole Wheat Soda Bread)
One very large loaf
I used T110 flour, which in France, is a light whole wheat flour. Which is wholemeal flour in Ireland, and similar to whole wheat pastry flour in the United States. You can use whatever is available to you, as making soda bread isn’t supposed to be a stressful experience. Still, the loaf was a bit heavy. So I think next time I’m going to cut the amount of wheat germ or bran in half, or leave it out completely, to lighten things up a bit. I also think the large loaf, while a necessity if you’re running an inn and feeding a lot of people, was pretty big for just me, so I would make two smaller loaves and reduce the baking time to compensate. Irish soda bread should be served the same day it’s made; any extra can be frozen.
2 1/4 cups (250g) whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups (120g) wheat bran or wheat germ, or a combination
4 cups (500g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (60g) butter, salted or unsalted
2 1/2 cups (600ml) buttermilk*
2 teaspoons molasses
1. Put the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. (180ºC.) Line a sturdy baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and put it on the oven rack.
2. Mix the whole wheat flour and wheat bran or germ in a large bowl.
3. Sift in the white flour mixed with the baking soda and salt. Stir the flours together, to combine.
4. Cut the butter into little bits and rub them into small pieces with the flour mixture using your fingers, until as small as possible.
5. Stir in the buttermilk and molasses until the dough is uniformly damp. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead not-too-vigorously, until the dough forms a smooth ball. (If making two, divide the dough into two equal-sized pieces and roll each separately.)
6. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice a cross deeply into the top of the bread, about 1-inch (3cm) deep. Place the brown bread loaf on the hot baking sheet, being mindful that the baking pan is hot.
7. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaf is firm on top and when you tap the bottom, feels hollow. (If baking smaller loaves, I would begin to check them for doneness after 25 minutes.)
8. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for one hour.
*For those who can’t get buttermilk, mix 1 part plain whole-milk yogurt with 1 part low-fat or regular milk and let stand for five minutes before using.