Thursday, 23 December 2010

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is halfway into biscuit territory. It is a great bread for last minute baking and is wonderful dunked in a hearty Irish stew. The bread is leavened with baking soda and, in this case, baking powder. Buttermilk acts as a catalyst for the rise in the oven and no pre-risings are needed.

By nature Irish soda bread lacks the complexity and sophistication of a delayed-fermentation yeast bread, but it is a good little loaf to have in your repertoire for baking up quickly.  And this one has the added enjoyment of looking like a four leaf clover. And who doesn't love a four leaf clover?

Irish Soda Bread
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers

Ingredients (by weight)

Whole wheat pastry flour  5.3 oz
Wheat flakes, lightly ground  2.6 oz
White pastry flour  2.6 oz
Milk powder  4 tsp
Sugar  ½ tsp
Salt  ¾ tsp
Baking soda  1½ tsp
Baking powder  ½ tsp
Buttermilk  9.25 oz

(What the heck's a wheat flake? A wheat flake is like a rolled oat, only made of wheat. Try your local bulk store, or sub in some lightly ground oats.)

Preheat oven to 475°F with a baking stone on the center rack.
Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, all the wet in another. Gently combine with a large spatula or wooden spoon. Add more white flour if necessary. (I added about another ½ cup)
Pour out onto floured surface and gently knead together. Make into a ball and, using your bench scraper, create indents almost all the way through - north-south, then east-west. Leave  About a half inch on the bottom.
Place loaf on a parchment paper and load into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 475°F, then lower the temp to 450°F and bake for about another 15 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Best first day, and also toasted.