Irish Soda Bread

 What makes soda bread so unique?  True Irish soda bread contains no yeast, and is made only with flour, salt, buttermilk, and baking soda (and there are folks with truly passionate views on the subject). But is whole grain soda bread possible?  After several experiments, I arrived at this dense, moist, and satisfying result.  This recipe includes oats, wheat bran, and cream, ingredients that bring its authenticity into question, but I submit that the result pays homage to the soda bread legacy.  For more history and just plain fun, check out the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  35 minutes
Yield:  1 large loaf

4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup buttermilk powder*
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water*
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, buttermilk powder, oats, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  A whisk is the right tool for the job.  With a sturdy spatula, stir in the water and cream to create a thick dough.  Be sure to incorporate all dry material, then stop mixing.

Scrape the mixture into a greased 8×8 baking pan, and bake on the center rack for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve warm with butter.

*If you have buttermilk on hand, use that in place of the buttermilk powder and water

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

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