The week after Thanksgiving means a bit of food detoxing is in order. (You know, before the real eating sets in around Christmas.) Salads have been looking pretty darn seductive this week.
Dinner one night was a salad of chicken, romaine, grape tomatoes and a hint of bacon, with a drizzle of homemade buttermilk dressing. Buttermilk dressing means buying buttermilk. Which at my grocery means an entire quart, when I only needed a third of a cup. What to do with the rest of it?
Several of my favorite cake recipes call for buttermilk, but cake would be defeating the point. How about a nice, not-bad-for-you bread instead, to go with the salad?
Beard on Bread, originally published in 1973, is still in print. While it doesn’t have the depth of information that some more contemporary bread baking books offer, there’s a reason it’s considered a classic: the recipes are good. Certain it would be a good place to start, I extricated it from my shelf and quickly found what I was looking for.
I’ve made Irish Soda Bread many times. It’s a fast, easy sort of bread to make when you don’t have the time or inclination to mess with yeast and multiple risings. I’d never tried a whole wheat version, however, and I just happened to have a bag of whole wheat flour on my shelf.
If you don’t have the book, you can click here and scroll down for the recipe and pictures. Note that this blogger has modified the recipe. The original calls for 1 Tbsp. of salt. I’d suggest including it! You’ll also find a more detailed explanation of the process in the book, so it’s worth a look.
This bread goes together quickly and I’m guessing it’s fairly foolproof. I didn’t bother measuring the buttermilk–I simply poured it in until the batter looked right, the way I do with cornbread. According to Mr. Beard, “right” means a soft dough that’s sort of similar to biscuit dough but which will still hold its shape.
Every soda bread I’ve ever made has taken longer to bake than the recipe alleges, and this one was no exception. It’s heavy and dense in texture and will take awhile to get fully baked in the middle. Worth waiting for, though.
Good flavor, nice texture and hey, it’s bread. Homemade bread! Most people don’t bake bread very often because it somehow seems like a Big Deal. This recipe really isn’t a big deal–even someone who’s never made bread before could easily be successful with it–but it will make you feel as if you’ve done something very special. There’s one small problem, though. I still have buttermilk left.
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