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Irish Brown Bread

When my husband and I first started dating, I understood about every third word that came out of his mouth.  Or, if he were telling this story, he’d say, “every turd word…out of my mout“.  His accent was pretty tick back den.  He grew up smack in the middle of Ireland, in County Westmeath, where people don’t like to pronounce their ‘th’s’.  Instead, three becomes ‘tree‘, thin becomes ‘tin‘, though becomes ‘dough‘ and I become crazy trying to translate English to, umm…English.  Don’t even get me started about the year he turned ‘turty-tree-and-a-turd’.

Luckily, not a single ‘t’, nor ‘h’ plays a part in Irish Brown Bread.

Though I shouldn’t worry – little is muttered from my Irishman’s mouth when he sniffs out freshly baked Brown Bread.  (Not to be confused with Irish Soda Bread, which is purely an Americanized version and does not exist anywhere in Ireland).  He can freakishly devour an entire loaf with silent precision and speed.  Slathered with a good helping of salted Irish butter and homemade jam for breakfast, topped with smoked salmon, capers and red onions for lunch and served along side a bowl of soup for a light supper are his favorite variations.  I like mine served simply – warm with butter, along side a big cup of Barry’s Irish tea.

It happens to be Paddy’s Day, but this Irish Brown Bread is baked year round, tru tick and tin, in dis house.  Irish eyes are smiling for it.

Irish Brown Bread, yields 1 loaf

I never have buttermilk when I need it, but for this bread, as the luck of the Irish would have it – Homemade Buttermilk only requires two ingredients I always have on-hand, and produces a far tastier and superior tasting loaf than its pricier supermarket equivalent.

Another thing I love about this brown bread is that I can wake up in the morning, and a mere hour later, pull a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven, just in time for breakfast.  Yeast-free, speedy as can be and like Lucky Charms – magically delicious.

Music Pairing: John McCormack, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, preferably stone ground (the coarser, the better)
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup finely ground old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.  For Homemade Buttermilk:  Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl, and let stand until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in ground oatmeal.

Pour milk mixture into flour mixture; stir until dough just holds together but is still sticky. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently about 4-5 times.  Pat, press and shape dough gently into a round, dome-shaped loaf, about 6-7 inches in diameter. Transfer to prepared baking pan.

Lightly dust top of loaf with flour. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top, 3/4 inch deep. Bake, rotating halfway through, until loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Allow to cool on wire rack.

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