Irish brown bread

Brown bread is not the same as soda bread. It’s brown bread and in Ireland has been made by Mamas and Grandmas daily since the beginning of time or at least since the fifties and despite the availability of magic quick bread mixes and shop bought brown bread concoctions, nothing beats freshly baked bread of any kind. Especially this one because this is a super easy fast bread that will bestow you with the same kind of prowess in the kitchen reserved usually for people who make ‘real bread’ (as in leavened) with none of the work.

The following recipe is for one loaf of coarse whole wheat bread and has been faithfully passed down to me from my own Irish Mama. The twist of teff comes from the toasted teff I almost always throw into the mix. If you can get your hands on some of these golden, iron rich grains or flour native to Ethiopia then go for it. Lightly toast a handful of the grains in a dry pan until they pop and crackle. Then just add to the mix. Gives the bread a delicate nutty overture. It has a cake like consistency, good for smoked salmon and onions. Best be eaten the same day because it doesn’t keep well but if you do it’s great toasted spread with a little butter and banana or honey.

Wholemeal flour – 160 grams
Multigrain flour – 140 grams
white flour – 100 grams

1 tsp of bread soda
a pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional) or maple syrup is good

1-2 tablespoons each of:
sunflower seeds
wheat germ
teff grains

150-200ml of buttermilk(amount depends on your dough, if you feel you need more add more, the bread will just be a litle more soft and moist)

Optional – for kneading- about an eggcup of olive oil

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. Then slowly start adding the buttermilk and start forming a dough. Your aim is to have a ball of dough that you can tip out onto a floured surface and start kneading.

Buttermilk – 150ml – add slowly and add more or less depending on consistency – should be not too wet and not too dry

Knead until a soft ball not too sticky or dry. Prepare a loaf tin by greasing the inside. Then place the dough in your tin and press out until it fills it. Make a deep cross ( this is to let the fairies out, if that’s what you want to believe, otherwise it helps the loaf to rise)

Bake for 10 minutes at 200 then for 20 – 25 at 180. Keep an eye on it. Depending on your oven it may need more or less time.

Note to cheats – you can skip the kneading part. You can tip your dough from bowl to tin and flatten it out there…It really makes little difference to the final result and really saves on the cleaning up part……Also using more instead of less buttermilk gives a moister sweeter bread.

When done, the loaf should slide out easily of its tin onto a cool surface. Let it cool for a while before slicing. It will continue to cook for a bit after coming out of the oven. Then enjoy with butter and smoked salmon or bananas or jam or whatever and of course the ubiquitous cup of Irish tea…..