Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Soda Bread: Or, reconnecting with my roots

Have you seen that video of the two Irish rowers being interviewed at the Olympics? It's great. "...got to put on the podium pants as well, so that was quite nice" like yes you did! They keep it real on the urine sampling too.

Well, I'm part Irish, and though I've never been to Ireland the rowers have me feeling a bit proud of me heritage. So, I made Irish soda bread, and loved it. It's a round loaf of bread risen without yeast--just with baking soda and buttermilk...basically, a large biscuit with slightly less butter, but you can slather as much as you want on a slice.

The bread is best the first day, but toasted the second day with butter and jam it does quite nicely for elevensies. The recipe I used calls for whole wheat flour and wheat bran, which adds a nice nutty heartiness to the bread.

Brown Soda Bread
Yield: 1 loaf


  • 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 7/8 ounces) whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for brushing the loaf
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place a rack in the upper middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment, silpat, or greased foil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk all of the flours, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and kosher salt. Rub in 2 tablespoons butter with your fingers until the mixture looks sandy/like crumbs.
  3. Add buttermilk and mix together with a fork until the dough comes together in shaggy clumps. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead just a few turns, until it comes together into a lumpy but cohesive dough (Baking Illustrated says 12-14 turns).
  4. Pat into a 6 inch diameter round and place onto prepared baking sheet. Score with a serrated knife in a cross, cutting about 3/4" into the loaf (pretty deep). 
  5. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown on the outside and a tester comes out clean from the middle. If you're using an instant-read thermometer, cook until the center is 190 degrees F. 
  6. Brush with melted butter immediately after taking the loaf out from the oven. Let it cool on a wire rack until room temperature, 30-40 minutes, before slicing in.
Recipe from Baking Illustrated.

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