Irish brown soda bread both versatile and easy to make

  • Irish brown soda bread is a hearty, wholesome loaf that is both versatile and simple to prepare. Associated Press Photo

By AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN
Published: 3/5/2019 3:05:39 PM

Irish brown soda bread is a hearty, wholesome loaf that tastes as good with a helping of scrambled eggs as it does with a smear of salted butter or tangy marmalade. And not only is this humble bread versatile, it’s also simple to prepare.

We mimicked the wheaty, nutty flavor and rustic crumb imparted by hard-to-find Irish wholemeal flour by combining whole-wheat flour with wheat bran and wheat germ. Cutting this mixture with all-purpose flour and a touch of sugar helped balance out the strong wheat flavor.

The addition of baking powder guaranteed a nicely risen loaf, but we also included baking soda for added browning and the characteristic mineral tang we love in soda breads. Acidic buttermilk contributed even more tangy flavor.

Finally, to force the soft dough to rise upward rather than outward, we baked our bread in a cake pan. Our favorite whole-wheat flour is King Arthur Premium. To ensure the best flavor, use fresh whole wheat flour. Wheat bran can be found at natural foods stores or in the baking aisle of your supermarket.

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups (11 oz.) whole-wheat flour

1 cup (5 oz.) all-purpose flour

1 cup wheat bran

¼ cup wheat germ

2 tsp. sugar

1½ tsp. baking powder

1½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan. Whisk the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat bran, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in medium bowl.

Add buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula until all the flour is moistened and the dough forms a soft, ragged mass. Transfer the dough to the counter and gently shape it into a 6-inch round (surface will be craggy).

Using a serrated knife, cut a ½-inch-deep cross about 5 inches long on top of the loaf. Transfer to a prepared pan. Bake until the loaf is lightly browned and the center registers 185 degrees (40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking).

Invert the loaf onto a wire rack. Reinvert the loaf and let it cool for at least one hour. Slice and serve. One loaf provides 10 servings.

This bread is best when served on the day it is made, but leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to two days.




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