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Brown Irish Soda Bread 

Makes 2 small loaves. 

Traditionally Irish soda bread is baked in a skillet or on a hearthstone. I use a pizza stone, with a wooden peel to handle the bread, but a preheated skillet, prepared with cooking spray, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper may also be used. The crust will be crunchier if you use the stone or the skillet method. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oatmeal, such as Quaker Oats
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use KIng Arthur)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated no-calorie sweetener, such as Splenda (or sugar if you prefer)
  • 1/2 stick cold butter, cut into dice
  • 2 cups buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional) 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400º. If using a skillet or baking sheet, prepare as discussed above.

2. Place the oats, bran, flour, salt, baking soda and sweetener in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mix.

3. Add the butter and pulse the processor briefly until the mixture feels like coarse crumbs. Do not overprocess. 

4. Turn the mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir in the optional caraway seeds and raisins if using, then make a well in the center of the mixture. Add the buttermilk and stir to combine. 

5. Turn the mixture onto a floured board and sprinkle another tablespoon or so flour over it. Divide the mass in two pieces and form them into round, flat loaves. (If you're using a skillet you can make one larger loaf. Baking time will be slightly longer.) Cut a deep cross in each loaf (this helps insure even baking)

6. Bake in the preheated 400º oven about 25 - 30 minutes, until lightly browned -- if done, a tester will come out cleanly and the loaf will emit a hollow sound when the bottom crust is tapped. 

Soda bread is always best if served the same day, preferably warm. If you're not serving it immediately allow to cool completely on a rack, then seal in plastic. 

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*Note: According to the Irish Odlums Flour site, if you don't have buttermilk you can substitute an equal amount of whole milk plus 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, which is said to produce the same result. I haven't tested that method, however. By the way, I don't use the "no-fat" version of buttermilk, as it only shaves off 3 calories per serving and reduces cholesterol by 5 mg. I haven't tested the recipe with no-fat buttermilk.

Nutritional Estimate: 12 servings, 2 slices each. Per serving: 161 Calories; 26 g Total Carbs; 3 g Dietary Fiber; 2 g Sugars; 5 g Fat; 11 mg Cholesterol; 211 mg Sodium; 5 cg Protein. Weight Watchers: 3 points.

 

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