I love Cook’s Illustrated and their recipe for “Brown Irish Soda Bread” looked great. Their primary focus is on taste, not nutrition, but this recipe caught my eye. It’s loaded with whole wheat flour but has added bran and wheat germ. By mistake, I ended up adding a about ¾ cup of wheat germ instead of the called-for ¼ cup and less wheat bran, as it was all I had. I deliberately reduced the salt from the original one teaspoon, figuring there would be enough sodium in the baking soda and baking powder (and I don’t like too-salty bread).
Bonus: it’s just dry ingredients and buttermilk – no eggs or added fat. I mixed the dry ingredients the night before to save time in the morning.
I kept wondering why I had to add more buttermilk to get it to the needed consistency. By the time I figured out my mistake, there was no going back, so I went with it and hoped for the best. And I got a delicious soda bread, not too salty-tasting, either. Just right.
No wedges for this bread, it holds up to slicing. Tastes hearty but not too heavy, and it goes well with most cheeses – I paired it with a firm goat cheese from our local farmer’s market, but a good cheddar or Stilton would also be fine (and probably more authentic!). Cheese brings complementary flavor to this bread, but also more protein and calcium than butter. With fresh fruit it made a nice whole-grain breakfast.
“My Mistake” Brown Irish Soda Bread
• 2 cups whole wheat flour • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
• 1 cup all-purpose flour • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
• ¾ cup wheat bran • ¾ teaspoon salt
• ¾ cup wheat germ • 2¼ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375⁰. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan. Whisk together all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Gradually add the buttermilk and mix until it’s one mass. Transfer it to a smooth counter and form it into a round that fits into your cake pan. The surface will be “craggy” but no worries. With a serrated knife, cut a “cross” on the tip, about half an inch deep.
Into the oven for about 40-45 minutes. It’s supposed to reach 185⁰ internally, but mine never quite made it. If the surface is browned, it’s probably done (mine was). Invert it onto a wire rack and then invert again so it’s “right-side-up.” Cool it for a good hour before slicing. It’s awesome.