Chef Priscilla Martel shared her recipe for the perfect bread for your St. Patrick’s Day spread.
Irish Wheaten Bread is the simplest bread you can make. It is addicting and absolutely delicious, a fact made obvious when I baked the loaf pictured here. (We can’t stop eating it.) The flavor of the whole wheat flour gives it an unexpected sweetness. Although the texture is somewhat crumbly, the loaf slices neatly.
No need to worry about yeast anxiety with this recipe. Irish Wheaten Bread is leavened with baking soda and goes directly into the oven after it is mixed. The entire process should take less than an hour.
Bread Makes the Meal!
3 cups (12 ounces) whole wheat flour such as King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat flour
2/3 cup (3 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1 ounce) quick cooking oats, raw
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) unsalted butter, diced
1 ¼ – 1 ½ cups (10 to 12 fluid ounces) buttermilk
Rolled oats, for the dough
Thirty minutes before baking, place a small pan for water on the lowest oven rack. Position a second rack in the middle of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Combine the flours, oats, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it between the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles corn meal. Gradually stir in the buttermilk adding just enough to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.
Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and knead lightly a few times to form the dough into a ball. Shape it into a uniform loaf about 7 inches in diameter. Press the dough lightly so that it measures approximately 1 ½ inches thick.
Sprinkle a baker’s peel or the back of a baking sheet with some rolled oats. Pick up the dough with your two hands and transfer it to the peel or baking sheet. (You could line the peel or baking sheet with parchment paper.) Using a serrated knife, cut the surface of the dough in a cross pattern so that the bread bakes into 4 neat quadrants.
Slide the bread onto the stone. Pour about 1/2 cup of hot water into the pan on the bottom of the oven. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until the loaf is well browned.
Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.
Breads and baked goods leavened with baking soda need an acid for the chemical reaction that lightens the bread to take place. If you like to switch out ingredients, keep this in mind. No buttermilk? Combine 1 ¼ cups of milk with ¼ cup of lemon juice or vinegar. Stir and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before using. You can also use 1 ¼ cups of plain yogurt thinned with 2 Tablespoons of water and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice.
Looking for a vegan version? Combine 1 ¼ cups of nut milk with ¼ cup of lemon juice. Stir and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before using. Use a good quality coconut oil in place of the butter.
© Priscilla Martel – Living a Flavorful Life. https://priscillamartel.com
All photos in this post by Priscilla Martel