I recently checked out the delightful Irish Country Cooking by Malachi McCormick from the library and love the recipes but especially the personality of the author, who grew up in Co. Cork in the 40's and 50's. The charming Mr. McCormick claims that brown bread, not soda bread, is the "real Irish bread". It sounded tasty, healthy, and quite appropriate for March so I whipped up a loaf. Here's how you can too:
What you need:
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups sour milk
What you do:
- Mix all the dry ingredients
- Make a well in the middle
- Pour the milk into the well
- Mix well to, in the words of Mr. McCormick, "make a thickish dough, not too wet or floppy"
- On a floured surface, form the dough into a roundish flatish circle, about 7 inches in diameter
- Use a wet knife to make a big X on the top of the loaf
- Bake in an 8 in cast iron pot prepared with butter (see my notes for more suggestions) at 400 degrees for 40 minutes
- It was super dry-drier than pie crust or biscuts-when I added 2 cups of milk, so I added about a half cup more. It is rather dry in my house, so I'd still recommend starting with 2 cups, but don't be surprised if you have to add more. I'd add extra no more than 1/4 cup at a time until the texture seems right.
- Mr. McCormick suggests using an 8 in round cake pan with a lid in lieu of a cast-iron pot, but as I didn't have one of those either, I used two glass pie pans, one as the pot and one as the lid.