Brown Soda Bread

Relationships are full of compromise.

“Can you turn off the light?”

Roo rolled over. “Why do I have to turn off the light?”

I shut my book and placed it on the floor by the bed. “Because you won’t let me buy a Clapper.”

“Because we’re not 90 years old.”

I clapped twice. “See, if we had the Clapper right now, we’d be sleeping.”

“We’re not getting a Clapper. But I’ll turn off the light.”

Sometimes there’s bargaining.

“Big Dave wants to play Halo.”

“Does Big Dave know that Halo makes my eyes bleed?”

Roo laughed. “Big Dave only plays Halo and he just texted to see if I’d play.”

I pursed my lips. I did not want to spend the evening hearing the game announce phrases like, ‘Yoink,’ ‘Swat’ and ‘Infected,’ repeatedly. “I’ll play Minecraft with you if you don’t play Halo.”

Roo set down his controller. “You never want to play Minecraft.”

“I do. Right now.”

“So I won’t play Halo?”

“I’ve been meaning to get into an 8-bit world where you can, you know, mine things.”

“One hour.”

“What?”

“One hour. I don’t want you to play for sixty seconds and say you’re done.”

“You know me too well. Ten minutes.”

“An hour. I know you’ll like it.”

“Thirty minutes, and I get to keep all the cool stuff we find.”

“This coming from the girl who never wanted to play Minecraft.”

But more often than not there are unexpected moments of thoughtfulness.

“I spent my last hour at work talking to a PhD who thinks he’s God,” I said, walking in to our apartment.

“I’m making us a snack,” Roo called out from the kitchen.

“You’re what?” I kicked off my shoes, closed the door and walked over to the stove.  “Oh, you made toast! Is there peanut butter?”

“It’s in the cupboard.” Roo said, handing me a slice of deeply browned soda bread.  “Careful, it’s still hot.”

I grabbed the tub of peanut butter out of the cupboard and popped off its lid. “How did you know this is exactly what I wanted?”

“When you texted me, ‘I just pictured his face melting off,’ I figured this would be a better solution.”

“Of course. Less mess.”

.

For me this is the perfect little loaf of soda bread.  It’s hearty, with a lovely craggy crust and spongy crumb. I love toasting this bread and spreading freshly ground peanut butter on it a cup of earl grey tea.  Slightly sweet and nutty, it makes a great anytime snack.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Equipment

A 9×5 loaf pan, buttered and floured or lined with parchment paper

A two cup measuring cup (if you don’t have one, make sure you have your tablespoon on hand and use a small mixing bowl)

A large mixing bowl

A whisk

A spatula

Aluminum foil (just in case the top of your bread gets too brown while baking)

A cooling rack (or a large plate if you don’t have one)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar or lemon juice)

Almost 2 cups unsweetened unflavored soy milk (you can use unsweetened unflavored almond milk)

One and three quarter cups all purpose flour

One and three quarter cups white whole wheat flour (you can use whole wheat flour)

3 tablespoons wheat germ

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

3 tablespoons old fashioned oats

2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Quarter teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons chilled butter (like Earth Balance), cut into pieces

Place your oven rack to the middle position in your oven.  Preheat your oven to 425F.

Add the white wine vinegar to your two cup measuring cup.  Pour in the soy milk until it reaches the 2 cup line.  Mix till well combined.  Allow the mixture to sit for about ten minutes. (If you don’t have a 2 cup measuring cup, measure out 2 cups of soy milk and remove 2 tablespoons.  Add the soy milk to your small mixing bowl then add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.  Mix till well combined.  Allow the mixture to sit for about ten minutes.)

While you’re letting the soy mixture rest, work on the dry ingredients.

Add the all purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, wheat germ, ground flax seed, old fashioned oats, packed dark brown sugar, baking soda and fine sea salt to a large mixing bowl.  Whisk the ingredients together till well combined.

Add the butter to the flour mixture, rubbing it in to the ingredients till it resembles a fine meal.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the butter milk into the well.  Stir the ingredients together with a spatula till the ingredients are just combined.  Do not over mix the batter.  Once it comes together, stop.  Otherwise, the dough will be tough.  It’ll look like a very very soft dough/very thick, lumpy cake batter.

Scrape the dough into the prepared loaf pan with your spatula.  Bake the dough until a cake tester (like a toothpick) comes out clean when inserted into the center.  The bread should be golden brown, and takes about 40 – 45 minutes (mine was done in 45 minutes).

*If the top of your bread becomes very brown and it still has a bit of baking to do, tent aluminum foil over it and continue baking.

Allow the bread to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then turn into out onto a cooling rack.  The bread can be served slightly warm, but I wouldn’t advise cutting into it when it’s piping hot.

This bread is best when toasted.  If you can wait till it cools and have it the next day for breakfast, it’ll be worth it.

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