The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

St. Paddy’s Day Feast, Sort of Ballymaloe 100% WW Brown Bread and Irish Ruben’s

dabrownman's picture

St. Paddy’s Day Feast, Sort of Ballymaloe 100% WW Brown Bread and Irish Ruben’s

Traditions get all tied up with the way things used to be but they point to a better future too.  There aren’t too many traditions that are tied to bad things.  No one wants to celebrate them year after year.   Those we try to forget.  But, the good things we want to remember and renew.  St Paddy’s Day is such a tradition and everyone can be Irish one day a year, put on the green and look forward to a better future.


Carrying on traditions can also be mean that things don’t change over time and the typical Irish feast is a fine example.  Who doesn’t want corned beef and cabbage, boiled; potato, carrots, celery and onion, a nice brown bread, soda bread or scones and fairy cakes at least once a year?  Next day Irish Ruben’s aren’t bad either.

This year, as we usually do, we mixed things up a little bit with the recipes to renew the tradition by not get stuck in the way things were, a problem with traditions that don’t change with the times - can’t let pride get in the way of progress.

So instead of covering the simmered corned beef in mustard and grilling it to finish we covered it as usual but baked it in the oven to get some color and flavor on it.  Instead of sautéing the cabbage with some garlic in butter and bacon fat, we added Swiss chard   and collard greens to the mix - highly recommended.  In place of scones, we made lemon curd fairy cakes and our take on Ballymaloe’s Yeasted Brown Bread replaced the usual soda bread.  So like all traditions that last, they change to withstand the test of time.


Sadly, our daughter Molly couldn’t be with us this year, but she did have Dad email her the recipes from his and her cookbook.  She called to tell me that a lot of important stuff was missing from them too!   She more into the way things are now than the way things were yesterday and so long ago as last year.


It’s the bread we want to talk about.  After staying at Ballymaloe for several days so long ago, we had the luxury of having their SD bread, soda breads; brown and white and their famous yeasted brown bread which is far and away our favorite with the sourdough coming in 2nd.  A SD brown bread would be out favorite if they made one.  Looks like a future project for my apprentice?


I have never had much luck making this yeasted brown bread as the recipe was originally written.   The recipe had several errors in it that have now been corrected by Darina Allen.  It had 50g too little flour, 150 g too much water and the hydration was 127%, pretty high for a no knead, one rise bread and totally unworable.  She has since changed the recipe adding 50 g of strong flour (now the bread is not 100% whole wheat) and cutting the water down to 425 g from 575g. 


The revised recipe can be found here:

I’m not into no knead bread and I wanted to keep the recipe 100% whole wheat if I could, plus, I wanted to use Guinness for the water.  I don’t keep packages of yeast around as a general rule but I did have one that had a little bit left in it which I used to make a 180 g 100% hydration biga that had 50 g of home milled soft white wheat in it.


Irish whole wheat, which is traditionally used to make this bread, is milled from soft red wheat, something I haven’t found unless online - at exorbitant prices.  So, to try to replicate this flour, I used 50 g of home milled hard red wheat, 150 g of whole wheat pastry flour and 300 g of store bough whole wheat flour.  With the soft white in the biga and the pastry flour we added 15 g of VWG to help this bread out with its lack of gluten.


The Irish Ruben - Kerrygold Irish Swiss cheese and butter for panini, home made Dijon mustard, corned beef with sauteed cabbage, Swiss chard and collard greens  just yummy with the usual veggies and fruit assortment.

You always want to buy Guinness in the can since Guinness travels so poorly.  The can is the only way to get anywhere close to what you get in Dublin out of the tap.  It has a small plastic CO2 canister in each can that lets loose its bubbles when you pop the top to ensure you get the proper stoving that Guinness is so famous for when poured,  as the bubbles work their way back to the top to make the head.

Since one can of Guinness is 14.9 oz or 423 g that is what we used for the 2 hour autolyse.  With the 100% hydro biga and the 84.5% autolyse, the 45 g of molasses (6 times more than Darina’s recipe) and 15 g of VWG we ended up with just the right amount of liquid at 88.51% hydration to allow us to do a nice set of French slap and folds to incorporate the biga into the autolyse and develop the gluten.  Plan on doing 10 minutes of slap and folds to get the dough in shape, eventually the dough will come around.

Once the dough had rested for 10 minutes after being slapped around, we divided it into 3 portions, did some S&F’s to get it tight and then made 3 little boules to fit in the large loaf tin.  You can see from the picture that the dough did not fill the tin even half full - Irish tins are smaller just like the leprichauns that make them - so have your apprentice make a 12% larger amout of dough next time like i will.  I wasn’t paying attention and let the dough proof 1/2 “ past the top of the tin, instead of  just under the top of the tin so it was over proofed and there wasn’t any oven spring as a result.

It took 8 hours on the counter to get it over proofed - so 7 hours would have been better.  We also thought that we would bake the tin in a hot MagnaWare oval turkey roaster with 1/8 C of extra water under the trivet.  We preheated the roaster at 425 F until the oven beep went off saying it was at temperature and then 5 minutes later removed the roaster from the oven, put the tin inside, topped with the lid and put it back in the oven for 20 minutes of aided self steaming.

We removed the tin from the roaster and put it on the oven rack and turned the oven down to 350 F, convection this time.  We removed the bread from the tin 10 minutes later and placed the bread upside down directly on the oven rack for 10 more minutes.  When it hit 205 F on the inside, it was removed to the cooling rack.  The oven had a stone on the top and the bottom of the oven to regulate the heat properly.

We like the way this bread tastes and isn't far off the Ballymaloe version from a taste point of view.  Even though my apprentice over proofed it, the crumb was glossy, open and mildly sweet.  The crust was crispy, probably due to the DO, but went softer as it cooled.  No wonder this is the bread Ballymaloe is famous for baking and serving to their guests!  Will post the Irish Rubens here after we make them for lunch.  Happy St. Patrick;s Day to All Fresh Lofians everywhere.



Build 1





Soft White Wheat



Whole Wheat






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Levain % of Total






Dough Flour



Whole Wheat



Whole Wheat Pastry Flour



Dough Flour












Dough Hydration






Total Flour






T. Dough Hydration



Whole Grain %






Hydration w/ Adds



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Add - Ins



VW Gluten










isand66's picture

What a great spread.  I would expect nothing less from you of course....:)

I love the way your brown bread came out with a nice moist open crumb.

Your corned beef and other goodies look perfect and it being time to eat dinner, you are literally killing me looking at your spread!

Great job DA.

I will post my boring bread later or tomorrow.  I used a NY Ale I purchased and was experimenting with my proofer a bit.  Added some dried onions or I should say a lot of dried onions and it came out like a nice steak-house onion bread, but even better in my opinion.

Look forward to your next creation.


dabrownman's picture

Dinner was great and the bread not bad either even if it lost its spring.  I made for a good Irish Ruben at lunch and another one for dinner.  Glad you liked the post.  Looking forward to your Ho Hum Onion Bread with Ale.  Hope your proofer works out well.

SylviaH's picture

You certainly made a fun day of it all and that is what's it all about.  

Everything looks delicious.  Nicely written up!  I made a corned beef dinner and enjoy the sandwiches the most mom always made a ham and when there was crowd we had both.



dabrownman's picture

SPD sounds delicious as it was crowded.  We don't get to make ham around her much as the girls don't like it at all for some reason.  It was always ham for Easter at my Mom's house.  The girls let me make a small one then as long as I make them something different :-)  Glad you liked the spread Sylvia.  I too like the sandwiches the best.  For dinner last night, I had corned beef, mayo 2 slices of Irish Swiss cheese on the brown bread and warmed it up in the microwave for 40 seconds just to melt the cheese and warm things up.  The best sandwich I've had in a long time and way better than the panini CB one  above even though it didn't have the cabbage and mustard  on it - and I love the cabbage as a side.

Happy Baking Sylvia

evonlim's picture

i like to be your neighbor.. mmm what a spread of good food. 100% wholewheat, fantastic look loaf. i have no supply of good wholewheat at the moment :(( 

dabrownman's picture

the spread Evon.  The left over sandwiches are pretty nice too.  We like this bread a lot.  It has to be hard to handle not having access to a good selection of  flours when you bake so well Evon - it makes me sad :-(  I would go crazy.

My apprentice has another very similar bread bulk fermenting on the counter that is SD this time instead of biga.  Always wanted to try this bread as a SD and this is the time if she  doesn't change it further :-)

Happy Baking Evon.

Alpana's picture

Give me your brown bread any day over soda bread, with the fairy cakes & sunset to accompany.  

I wanted to ask you about your turkey roaster baking. When do you add water? I use a claypot in place of dutch oven and it gives me great results, but from your posts I get that adding water inside a closed vessel, will lead to better results. I was wondering if I can put hot water in the hot claypot , put steaming tray over it, lay parchment with dough or loaf tin on the steamer tray and then put in oven with lid on. Remove the bread after 20-30 minutes & then bake on rack. Or do you put water when the roaster goes in cold oven?  

dabrownman's picture

I been doing a lot of testing using DO's, roasters clay pots, metal, ceramic, glazed, unglazed, CI enameled, small, medium and large, extra water or not, hot or cold ovens.......  The metal ones can go in hot ovens  and can be loaded hot or cold.  Clay and ceramic need to be soaked in water (clay sand pots for 24 hours) an have to go into a cold oven with the bread and get hot with the oven or you risk breaking the pot from thermal shock of cold pot into hot oven or cold bread into hot pot.

I prefer the metal ones since they are more flexible process wise and can go loaded with or without bread into cold or hot ovens without worry.  I think we get the best results loading the bread into a hot DO.  The thing to remember about adding extra water it that a little bit goes a long way.

I think that you certainly could put a steamer tray  in the bottom of your clay pot with  1/8 C (3T)  of boiling water with parchment and bread and load it into a cold oven.  I think you might like the difference it makes but you may have to play around with the amount of water.  You will have fun testing it out.  I get good results with or without extra water but the crust is much more gelatinized with the extra water and comes out  darker, thicker and more tasty in my book.  Its a personal preference. 

Happy testing!

Alpana's picture

That is a lot of testing! Must have been fun. By now you should have enough material to write a book. Hope you give it a thought.

I have tried cold & hot claypot and I definitely prefer hot. The claypot I use is cheap & quite sturdy. It is supposed to withstand sudden temp change from 0 to 500 (I will not test that one). I can put cold dough in hot claypot without problem. In future I do plan on buying Lodge DO, but currently I have strict orders from my husband not to buy any more baking equipment, unless I find space to keep it (kitchen floor is not included in space definition according to him). Till then I will try my 10 ltr SS stockpot and see if it works as I will feel more comfortable dumping boiling water in hot SS than claypot. 


gmabaking's picture

and even greater looking bread! Except for the bread I think our meals were the same. After roasting the briskets, would never go back to simmering them. Some years I add just a touch of brown sugar on top of the mustard slathered beef just enough before it comes out of the oven to caramelize the sugar. In deference to the tasters who would have been sad to see no raisins, we went with the tried and true soda bread. The taste is so much more intense for the Irish brown bread I know, but we will save that for another day.
Sisterly jury is still out regarding the Easter Bread bake (except of course the Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. Candied some orange peel for them but my assistant has slipped slice after slice from the dish and it will be empty long before next week.

dabrownman's picture

to simmer the CB to get rid of some of the salt cure and  season the water for the veggies.  Brown Bread won out over the soda bread by a whisker.  If my daughter would have been home we would have baked both.   She is a big help in the kitchen.

It is amazing how good the SD sandwiches are when you only have them once a year! 

Hot Cross buns for Good Friday are a must and let me know what you GMA's decide for the Easter bake.    I vote for Polish Chocolate Babka but I'm not a GMA - at least not yet :-)

Happy Baking!

gmabaking's picture

for Easter. Will be interesting to see what variations we will all make. No matter what we plan when we first decide, we end up with different flavors, shapes etc. Makes it fun to see on baking day.

Glad you'll be joining us

dabrownman's picture

Hot cross buns and babka.

bakingbadly's picture

That's one handsome sandwich you have there... Makes my mouth water. :)

I haven't really experimented with breads containing beers... well, once many months ago but the bread came out too bitter. I should give it another try one day but the problem is, it's difficult to find good beers around here.

Just got to keep searching.

Thanks for post, DA. Hope all is well.


dabrownman's picture

stay away from the ales when using bread in beer.  They make for bitter bread.  Lagers, porters and stouts work well.  In hot weather climates they make ales since the other methods don't like heat.   With your heat I'm guessing they make a lot of ale around there.

Keep searching and you will find a beer that works for you.  

Glad you liked the bread.  It was yummy!  Looking forward to your next bake Zita,

Mebake's picture

The wholegrain loaf, the corned beef..all look delicious, DA! I like the waffle pattern on the sandwich.




dabrownman's picture

press has grill marks running one way so ,half way through, I turn it 90 degrees and viola....waffle paninis!  You get diamonds if you start the sammy on a 45 degree angle.  Just like grilling on the BBQ.  The bread was so good,  my apprentice is final proofing a similar bread that is made with our new 2 week old Ancient But Not Mini's SD Starter instead of a biga.  Added a big WW scald.soaker to it this time.  Couldn't think of a better first loaf of 100% WW for it to rise.  Can't decide if we should bake it low and slow like a pumpernickel or bake it like the last one.  I'm thinking we will bake it like the last one so we can see if we like the SD version with soaker better.

Happy baking Khalid.  Can't wait to see your next whole grain bake

Mebake's picture

Waiting for that wholesome new SD started bread, DA!

I have baked a yogurt ww bread from Laurel Robertson's book, but it was a failure. The SD biga, as opposed to the overnight sponge didn't work well with yogurt, i guess.. the dough tore during and after shaping, and i ended up with a crumbly almost dense bread, quite tasty though! 

I'm bed ridden today, i guess that the word "take it easy" has more profoung meaning to me now. I'll be baking this saturday, God willing. I have converted my liquid white starter to a stiff one for a change, and i haven't a clue yet as to what recipe i shall be baking.