Friday, 12 November 2010

The weather has been vile for the past few days. It's definitely been a time for lighting the fire and cooking warming and comforting food. And what is more comforting than the smell of  bread baking in the oven?

I quite enjoyed the soda bread I made for Sunday lunch but the comparison with the birthday bread was a little unfair as mine was the white version. So I decided to have a go at making proper Irish brown (wholemeal) bread. I had no buttermilk so tried the 'add a tablespoon of lemon juice to milk' trick.

 Here's the result, fresh from the oven

and split into quarters ready for freezing.

4 cups Whole wheat flour
2 cups White flour
1 1/2 ts Salt
1 1/2 ts Baking soda
2 cups Buttermilk or sour milk (add 1 tbs lemon juice to each cup of normal milk to sour~)
2 tbs Butter

Mix the whole wheat flour throughly with the white flour. Rub the butter into the flours. Add the salt, and soda. Make a well in the center and gradually mix in the liquid. Stir with a wooden spoon. You may need less, or more liquid - it depends on the absorbent quality of the flour. the dough should be soft but managable. Knead the dough into a ball in the mixing bowl with your floured hands. Put in on a lightly floured baking sheet and with the palm of your hand flatten out in a circle 1 1/2 inches thick. With a knife dipped in flour, make a cross through the center of the bread so that it will easily break into quarters when it is baked.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake a further 15 minutes. If the crust seems too hard, wrap the baked bread in a damp tea cloth. Leave the loaf standing upright until it is cool.

It's not quite the same as Ma-in-law's (definitely going to try it with proper buttermilk next time) but I like it on its own with butter, as an accompaniment to a warming winter stew, or with jam for afternoon tea.