Post by Alison Hein.
Irish wheaten bread, or brown bread, is one of the most simple and satisfying loaves you can make. And eat, of course. As a soda bread that requires no yeast (thus no messy kneading or lengthy rising time), this recipe takes little more than the 45 minutes required for baking.
Wheaten bread is one component of the large and complicated traditional Irish breakfast, which also may include bacon, sausage, eggs, black pudding, toast, fried tomato, sautéed mushrooms and baked beans! Maybe we’ll try that someday, but I prefer my wheaten bread all on its own. A thick slice of pure, earthy bread, lightly toasted and smeared with Irish butter, is enough breakfast for me.
The outer crust becomes thick and crusty in the hot oven, leaving the wheaten bread’s innards soft and tender – a lovely contrast and perfect first bite. With so few ingredients, the hearty wheat flavor shines through. Use stoneground organic wheat flour if you can find it. Then, try it out on your fussiest eaters. You may be surprised at how much they enjoy this simple, satisfying non-traditional Irish breakfast in bed.
3 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup unbleached white flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ cups milk (or use buttermilk instead of the milk and vinegar)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 425°. Pour whole wheat flour into a large bowl. Sift in unbleached white flour, salt and baking soda and stir to mix. Pour milk and vinegar into flour mixture and stir to make a soft dough. Mix just enough so that dough holds together – overmixing will cause the bread to become tough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Shape dough into one large mounded round and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cut a thin cross in the top of the loaf, just enough so the loaf opens a little on top while baking.
Place wheaten loaf in oven and bake for about 45 minutes. When done, the bread will have a hollow sound when lightly tapped. Remove bread from oven and cool, wrapped in a light tea towel, for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf of bread.