I feel like I am phoning it in a bit with a simple loaf of bread as my St. Patrick’s Day celebratory post…truth be told, I can’t believe it is March already and the mere thought of St Patrick’s day being just next week seems quite impossible to me, so this bread was mixed and baked with the intention of craving thick cut toast on a Saturday morning and wanting something where yeast was not involved - my last package had , unbeknownest to me, expired 6 months ago and was most likely dead and had been tossed into the trash, buried below coffee grounds.
Brown bread does not involve yeast…kind of awesome – since mine were dead and all. Brown bread – a type of soda bread, I have done a bit of researching on the types of soda breads and it is quite the discussion and there are many opinions…so, I am going with all brown breads are soda breads, but not all soda breads are brown breads … get it, got it, good? Any who…brown breads use the basic baking soda/acidic liquid to give rise to the bread. No yeast! Buttermilk is the go to here. No buttermilk? No worries…I didn’t either – I rarely do since I never use it all and I hate wasting food and the smell of spoiled buttermilk is more than I can bare. But skim milk and a touch of lemon…those items are always in my fridge…since, ya know…cereal and cocktails are vital elements in my world.
Skim milk + lemon juice + 5 minutes = instant buttermilk. Woohoo!
We are going to use a combination of flours – wheat and white. A combination of oats – rolled/old fashioned and steel cut. Brown sugar adds a nice/light sweetness with a that nice mellow hint of molasses…all under a layer of nuttiness that is so absolutely satisfying with a layer of salted butter and a slather of summery strawberry jam. Or raspberry if that is your …wait for it….
Toast not your thing? Wait a second while I try to let that soak in…who doesn’t love/adore/crave toast on a daily basis? Just the simple pure smell of toast makes me weak in the knees and has be wandering toward the source with my nose in the air like Yogi Bear after a picnic basket.
This Brown bread would be just the right touch of sweet/nuttiness that pairs so well with a good hunk of sharp cheddar or KerryGold Dubliner cheese – if you wanna go all Irish, which I would highly recommend…even on non-Irish holidays.
Word of the wise … this is not sandwich bread. No, sir. Not even a little bit. I don’t want to get ya thinking otherwise. This is dense and heavy and crumbles a bit on day 2 or 3 and when it is lightly (or heavily) toasted, it really comes to life and lives out its carb-wonderful purpose…but it is not intended for turkey, tomatoes, and mayo. Nope. Lox, cream cheese, and capers…that seems like another story. A story I’d like to write.
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour (350 grams)
- 1 + ½ Cups Coarse Whole Wheat Flour (175 grams)
- ½ Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (60 grams)
- ½ Cup Steel Cut Oats (60 grams)
- 2 + ½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
- 5 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
- 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cold (and diced if no cheese grater)
- 1+1/2 Cups Buttermilk.
- Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly dust baking sheet with flour.
- Whisk together flour, wheat flour, old fashioned oats, steel cut oats, baking soda, and brown sugar.
- Grate cold butter into dry ingredients and whisk to combine. ( no cheese grater - just cut butter into dry ingredients with fingers or pastry cutter, much like you would with pie crust/biscuits). Form a well into the center of the ingredients and pour in buttermilk. Stir to combine, forming soft dough. It will seem dry and shaggy - you can add a touch more buttermilk if you find it too dry.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and with lightly floured hands, knead dough for a minute or so, until a nice, slightly moist ball of dough is formed.
- Shape dough into a round loaf about 1+1/2 to 2 inches tall. With a lightly floured knife, cut an "X" through the center of the bread, making sure not to cut all the way through. Sprinkle with a few extra rolled old fashioned oats.
- Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of loaf comes out clean and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
- Slather with salted (Irish) butter and good smidgen of jam.
Adapted from ‘Flavors of Ireland’
* Weigh ingredients…I weighed and measured to see difference and oh what a difference! If you have a scale, use it. The final outcome will be more consistent.
*I did not use coarse whole wheat flour, but regular King Arthurs Whole Wheat Flour. This changed the density of the bread, no doubt, but it was still great. When I find coarse whole wheat flour…I will get back to the difference.
*When butter needs to be worked into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fingers, I prefer grating. My hands are too darn warm and butter tends to just melt. I find that what works best is to freeze the butter and then grate it over the dry ingredients and then with a fork or whisk, work the grated butter into the dry ingredients. Works like a charm for pie dough, biscuits, scones, and bread.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.