Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lonely Night Dinner: Whole Wheat Soda Bread & Tea

It's a cold, quiet night here - one of my favorite kinds - and I needed a simple, soul-satisfying dinner. When you're feeling chilly and cozy, what could be better than a slice of warm bread and a cup of hot tea? Clearly, it was meant to be a whole wheat soda bread kind of evening!

This loaf is wonderfully comforting - its flavor is simply, purely wholesome. It tastes wheat-y in a classically nutty, delicious way. Its texture is slightly chewy, and if you are like me an enjoy your bread crusty, you will not be disappointed. Cracking into that crust in anticipation of the moist, chewey interior - preferably still steaming hot! - is sensory bliss.

The best part? It's so ridiculously easy to make that as you shove it in the oven, you'll wonder if you somehow missed a step. Nope. It really IS that simple. Just sit back and enjoy the aroma of hot baking bread as it fills your house.

Once you pull it out of the oven, don't wait. Life's too short. Carefully ease it out of the pan, grab a knife, and have at it while its as hot and fresh as it can possibly be. Tonight, as you can see, I topped it with butter and honey, which, I assure you, is utterly divine. All the parts come together so eloquently: the warm, flavorful bread; the creamy, salty butter; and the sweet, thick, rich honey, all melded into the perfect simple dinner. It's equally good with your favorite jam; toasted the next day with any nut butter; or served accompanying a roast, soup or stew, or even a vegetable bake. Make some and treat yourself!

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

3 cups (12 oz) of wheat flour
1 cup (4 oz) of white flour (do not use self-rising as it already contains baking powder and salt)
14 ounces of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
Approximately 1 tablespoon honey (I admit, I just blop some in there!)

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a round cake pan or spray with Bakers Joy. 
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. If the dough still seems dry or too crumbly, just add a touch more liquid (regular milk or whatever you've got in the fridge is fine if you've run out of buttermilk). Flour your hands and lightly knead (too much allows the gas that helps it rise to escape) in the bowl.

Shape into a round and place in prepared pan. It probably won't touch the sides; that's fine. Cut a cross in the top of the dough. Cover the pan with another round cake pan or tinfoil (make it a little poofy so it doesn't touch the bread)  and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped when done. Let cool and serve with butter, preserves, and/or honey. It's wonderful with tea - I had chamomile!

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