The Fresh Loaf

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Irish Brown Bread (soda bread)

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pmiker's picture
pmiker

Irish Brown Bread (soda bread)

I used the recipe on the King Arthur Flour site and the bread turned out nicely.  I varied a bit from the recipe in that I used a 5 qt dutch oven.  I put the dough into the cold dutch oven, covered it and placed it into a pre-heated oven at 450F for 5 minutes and then turned the heat down to 350F and baked for 45 minutes.  

The dough that I made was shaped into a ball and slightly flattened.  It looked small in the dutch oven.  Should I have flattened it down to a thick disk?  Should I have made more dough for the dutch oven or perhaps used a smaller dutch oven?

In the picture it's hard to gauge size but it is about 3 inches tall at center.  Should it have risen more?

I like the bread and the recipe but if I can do it better I'd like to.

 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

The height looks good  it's not going to raise a lot.  Mostly depends upon how quickly and gently you handle the dough.  Looks like you did nicely because your crumb looks good. Did you cut a cross on top.  That helps the loaf open up a bit.

There is a photo of an Irish brown bread I baked with KA wheaten flour for soda bread and one spotted dog.  If you care to take a peak just type in search Irish Brown Bread SylviaH.  I use a traditional recipe of just flour, buttermilk, salt, soda but also add a little cream of tartar.  

Sylvia

pmiker's picture
pmiker

Yes, I did cut a cross on the top but perhaps not deep enough.  It was deeper than I normally slash but I'll do it deeper next time.  I also used fresh milled soft red wheat for the flour.  The KAF recipe is flour, buttermilk, baking powder and soda, salt and oil/butter.

I'll look for your post.

Mike

 

BobBoule's picture
BobBoule
pmiker's picture
pmiker

I can always use the extra help in scoring.  But in this case the cuts should be about 1/2" to 3/4", I believe.  The result is to be a loaf with four distinct quarters.  It is most often done with a kitchen knife instead of a lame.

For my pan loafs, rounds and such I do slash with a lame and I'm going to go over your link with a fine tooth comb. It has some wonderful pictures.

pmiker's picture
pmiker

I made the read again.  It was wetter this time and came out a bit drier.  There was also a mention of possibly a soda taste hidden in it.  Not a bad bread but not as good as the first.  Your version is similar to the KAF one so I will try yours tonight.  I have fresh milled soft red whole wheat flour to use.  I'm behind schedule now and need to make two tonight.  I'll do one the same as my first and the second your way.  I may even have a pie pan around to use.

pmiker's picture
pmiker

Here's what it looked like.  The dough was stickier than I like but I really tried to go with the loose measurements.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

If you are happy and have a moist and fairly dense crumb on your ISB.  It probably didn't need additional flour.  Use your flour generously on the board, your hands and while gathering your dough ball together and shaping.  I use my hands and a dough scraper along with a 'pie fork' to mix the well shaken buttermilk into flour mixture.  

A pie fork is just a very large fork with well spaced prongs.  Just in case you were wondering.  It works very well for pies and ISB

Sylvia

 

pmiker's picture
pmiker

So I won't see how it turns out.  I followed your directions as close as possible.  Yes, I used a pastry fork.  Still, my hands were a sticky mess.  I'll make one for me soon.

BTW, it takes a lot longer to mill soft red wheat than it does the hard wheat in my mill.

pmiker's picture
pmiker

I have made the soda bread four or five times now using one of two recipes.  Yours and one that is similar but with some sugar and oil/butter.  In neither recipe can I claim consistency.  One time moist, another time dry.  I try to handle the dough as little as possible but it's a sticky mess half the time.  I add some flour to ease the stickiness, put it into a pan, flatten it a bit, cut it and bake it.  Sometimes yea and sometimes nay.

Is there a secret to knowing the correct feel of soda bread dough? Kneading? A bit or none at all.  How long to mix.  I think all my soda breads have been do to luck.  Some good, some bad.  If you can help me turn from luck to knowledge I'd be forever grateful.

BTW, your recipe tends to be the wetter and stickier of the two.  Just how big are those cups of flour?

For the record, I use home milled soft red wheat.

Mike

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hello,

Sorry I didn't get to your post earlier.  Usually I get an e-mail alert.  I don't know maybe I missed it.

Never over mix soda bread.  Do it as quickly, gently as you can.  Just enough till it comes together.  

The usual measure in a soda bread using 2 cups of white flour is to add the same amount weight flour and buttermilk.   That is when using a white flour or some whole wheat mixed with white.  

If it's to sticky, add more flour next batch.  Use your dough scraper to help in shaping, pushing the ball together and tossing more flour over the too sticky surface.  It also helps lifting the ball into the baking pan.

Practice and keep notes what you did on the ones that turn out.  Whole wheat soda bread is going to be heavier and denser.  I usually make white flour SB's.  or only add a little wheat flour.  

I've only used the KA brand Irish wheaten flour for whole wheat ISB.

Sylvia 

 

pmiker's picture
pmiker

Sylvia,

Thank you for the response.  Typically in bread making I thoroughly mix ingredients.  I do that with all the dry ingredients but when it comes to the liquid in soda bread I'm always fearful of over mixing.  

Equal weights of flour and buttermilk.  That would be 100% hydration.  Yep, a sticky dough.  My last loaf was well received so that means out of five loaves that I made only two were less than I wanted.

I will concentrate on my mixing and see how I can mix it well but gently.  My fresh milled soft red wheat flour should be similar to KAF's Irish wheaten flour.  Anyway, it seems to work.

Thanks for the help,

Mike

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Think more like gently stirring than mixing.  Make well, pour in the buttermilk and fork in the flour gently till all is moistened.  Use that dough scraper with your hands for shaping and floured everything : )

Sylvia