Is it wrong that I've just returned from a week in one of the most beautiful places on earth and all I want to talk about is the amazing brown bread we ate there? Typical, isn't it!
Soda bread is an Irish tradition. It uses baking soda as the leavening agent instead of yeast. Traditional Irish Soda Bread is made only from flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk; that's it. The flour used is soft flour, meaning it is more refined than regular flour, it also has a lower gluten content. Pastry or cake flour is typically soft.
We were served a range of brown bread in Ireland. Some was lighter with a fine texture while others were very dark with seeds on the crust. Some were baked in loaf pans and others were round loaves. It was all delicious. After our first few days in Ireland I bought a loaf at a bakery and declared that my meals for the rest of the week were taken care of. Well, after I purchased some salty, Irish butter, of course. And had a perfectly poured Guinness to wash it all down with. That's a meal, no?
Since we've returned I've made 2 loaves of brown bread already! Because there isn't any scary yeast involved, brown bread is a snap to make. My first two attempts were good, but not quite right. I started with this recipe and for the second loaf added more salt and a tablespoon of sugar. Better, but not right.
Next, I'm going to try a different variety of flour. I purchased a complet (whole wheat) bread flour that is a Belgian product. I'm going to try a whole wheat flour that is not bread flour and see what that does. The ridiculous thing is that once I figure out how to make great brown bread here in Lux, I'll have to do it all over again in Seattle. Again, with the baking ingredients. Who'd a thought they'd be so different? The top picture is a loaf I brought back from Ireland. A tasty souvenir! Have you had brown bread? Do you have a great recipe that you're dying to share? Please comment!