Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dirty Blonde Brown Bread

The Setting: It's Spring Break here in the Bend, and boy, are we excited!

The Soundtrack: The washer and dryer. So behind on housework.

Steaming up the Oven: Dirty Blonde Brown Bread.

The Scenario: So you want to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Well, you could pick up some of the soda bread flooding the supermarkets this time of year...or you could spend the money on some good Irish butter and make this Dirty Blonde Brown Bread at home.

The "Irish soda bread" here in the States tends to be a round loaf with a creamy white interior, dotted with dried currants.

While I'm sure it's authentic, I don't recall seeing this type of soda bread in Ireland.

I do recall three different versions, all oblong loaves, none with dried fruits.

White soda bread (simply called soda bread) and whole-wheat soda bread (brown bread) were hard to resist, but it was a slightly speckled brown bread, lighter in color and flecked with bits of grain for texture and flavor, that made me want to chain myself to the table and trade my ticket home for another loaf.

Here's my best attempt at re-creation to date. Dip it in some Irish stew, or add some salted Kerrygold butter or sweet orange marmalade, and you've got a little slice of Ireland wherever you are.

Dirty Blonde Brown Bread
Soda bread is so called because it's leavened with baking soda rather than yeast. This one is called "Dirty Blonde" because it is lighter than regular brown bread and flecked with oats.

4 oz old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking, not steel-cut)
8oz all-purpose flour
8oz whole wheat flour
1 T malted milk powder
1 T dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp fine salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 T cool butter
1 large egg
12 oz buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan.

Place oats in the food processor and pulse until they are chopped but not uniform or powdery.

Add the flours, milk powder, brown sugar, salt, and soda. Pulse several times to combine.

Add the butter and pulse to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks sandy and there are no large pieces.

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the egg and the buttermilk.

Turn the processor on and slowly stream in the buttermilk mixture, just until a sticky dough comes together. In very humid environments, you may not need all of the buttermilk mixture. Do not mix more than necessary.

Scrape the dough out into your prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top as much as you can with a spatula, and bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 400, and bake for 20 minutes more.

Let cool 10 minutes in the loaf pan before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Eat immediately once cool.

Read about my Irish Adventures:

Driving on the Other Side of the Road, Part I.

Driving on the Other Side of the Road, Part II.

Driving on the Other Side of the Road, Part III.

Driving on the Other Side of the Road, Part IV.

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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