For some of us with Irish ancestry, one of the things we look forward to on St. Patrick’s Day is Irish soda bread and brown bread. And for others of said ancestry, Irish soda bread was just something you had everyday. How envious was I of my friend, Maura Kelly, whose mom baked soda bread EVERY morning. Maura would show up to school, with still warm slices of the raisin-speckled, unleavened heaven. And yes, of course there was butter to top those slices with.
And here I always thought that Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp were the best ‘moms’ (okay not really moms but in my child mind they were great stand-ins), but here comes Mrs Kelly, a real mom, who bakes bread every morning?!? Yeah, mother of the year for sure!* I stared so longingly at Maura’s slices of steaming soda bread everyday that eventually her mom took pity on me and started sending along slices to share with ‘the other Moira’.
To set the record straight Mrs. Kelly’s, and most of the ‘irish soda breads’ we have all come to know, is actually Spotted Dog. A traditional ‘soda bread’ contains the following ingredients period, end of story: flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk (buttermilk). Now this is more your ‘brown’ bread you take with every meal variety.
Irish Brown Bread. On every table in Ireland, at every meal: breakfast, lunch and tea. Seriously I cannot get enough of the stuff when I have been a visitin’. But try to re-create that grainy goodness stateside, and it just falls short without lots of adds-ins like oat bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, and trust me, I have been tinkering with this for a long time. Until now. I have finally discovered the PERFECT organic whole wheat flour to recreate the perfect brown bread. And to think it has been right under my nose at the Green City Market the whole time. Heritage Prairie Farms stone ground organic whole wheat flour. Heritage Prairie Farms grinds whole wheat, grown by Ted’s Organic Grains, to just the perfect point, leaving all the nutritious bran and germ in tact. And now once again a perfect brown bread. Slainte.
Mo’s Irish Brown Bread
3 1/2 cups Heritage Prairie Farms Organic Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
3/4 cup Three Sister’s Garden rolled oats (best oatmeal ever!)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup sugar (I know, not a purist)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut in small pieces
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dust baking sheet with cooking spray and flour.
In a large bowl mix together flour, oats, baking soda and sugar. Using fingers or pastry cutter work in butter until it resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in buttermilk until a dough is formed. Turned dough onto a floured work surface and knead for about one minute. Shape into a ball and place onto baking sheet. Flatten dough to about 1 1/2″ high. Cut cross in the top, brush with buttermilk and sprinkle some oats on top. Bake approximately 35 minutes.
p.s. so are you hankering to get my secret recipe for Spotted Dog? leave a request in the ‘comments’ section.
*seriously not fair to expect my mother of Ukrainian ancestry to bake Irish Soda Bread daily and god knows she made more than enough from scratch. I mean who bakes homemade hamburger buns?!?