US: 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.
Mimick the wheat, nutty flavour and rustic crumb impart by hard-to-find Irish wholemeal flour by combining whole-wheat flour with wheat bran and wheat germ. Cut this mixture with all-purpose flour and add a touch of sugar to balance out the strong wheat flavour.
The addition of baking powder guarantes a nicely risen loaf, but also includes baking soda for added browning and the characteristic mineral tang you love in soda breads. Acidic buttermilk contributed much more tangy flavour.
Finally, to force the soft dough to rise upward rather than outward, bake the bread in a cake pan. To ensure the best flavour, use fresh whole wheat flour.
Irish Brown Soda Bread
Servings: 10 (one loaf)
Start to finish: 1 hour (plus 1 hour cooling time)
2 cups (11 ounces) whole-wheat flour
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease 8 inch round cake pan. Whisk 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 rubber spatula until all flour is moistened and dough forms soft, ragged mass. Transfer dough to counter and gently shape into 6 inch round (surface will be craggy). Use serrated knife, cut 1/2 inch-deep cross about 5 inches long on top of loaf. Transfer to prepared pan. Bake until loaf is lightly browned and centre registers 185 F, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
Invert loaf onto wire rack. Reinvert loaf and let cool for at least 1 hour. Slice and serve.
To make ahead: 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 2 days....