It's nice when a challenge goes smoothly and uneventfully, and ends up quite tasty. Sara and I had both made this type of bread before and in the end it's not a terribly difficult recipe -- pretty much flour, baking soda and buttermilk.
The dough was not especially pretty to look at and it was rather tough to handle. After about 30-40 minutes in the oven, however, it came out smelling wonderful and looking great. So great, in fact, that we dug right into it along with our semi-Irish feast -- sausage, salad, Irish and English cheeses, cornichons, Irish butter, tomato jam and mustard, plus cider and beer -- without taking any pictures.
So here's the bread remaining after Sara and I and our husbands had at it, and after I cut it the rest in half to send home with them. Just a little left -- probably the best testament to a successful challenge!
For the month of September Meredith from the Poco Loco Olsons challenged us to experiment with soda bread.
Irish Country Bread
Servings: 12 or more, based on how the loaf is sliced
- 2½ cups (625 ml) sour milk or buttermilk
- 2 cups (500 ml) (300 gm) (10½ oz) whole wheat four (see note above on how to measure flour)
- 4 cups (1000 ml) (600 gm) (21 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (see note above on how to measure flour)
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt
- Preheat oven to hot 450°F/ 230°C/gas mark 8 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. (I do this by hand, but you could use a mixer if you’d prefer.)
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
- Pour the sour milk/buttermilk into the well.
- Mix the dough until the flour is completely incorporated. (It will be very stiff. I find it helpful to knead the dough by hand a few times while it is still in the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated before moving on to the next step.)
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
- Pat or roll the dough into a circle shape that is approximately 1 inch (2½ cm) thick.
- Using your fingertips or the blunt end of a wooden spoon handle, make several dimples in the top of the dough. (This is very similar to the technique used when making focaccia bread.)
- Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated hot oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6. Pull the baking sheet out from under the dough, so the parchment is directly on the oven rack. Bake for 10 more minutes or until the top is golden brown.*