Last night was my last night of the Arbutus Bread Course 😦 And I have to say despite having to travel down to Cork from Dublin late Tuesday night every week and getting the 5am bus back to Dublin every Thursday morning, I am quite sorry to see it end. In fact the 5am bus ride was almost enjoyable when it was accompanied with a little flask of hot tea and a some of the fresh bread (generously buttered and slathered with jam) that I had made the night before at Arbutus!
This week was great as two of the breads we did, Latvian Rye and Brown Soda, would be the breads I would eat the most on a day to day basis. The Latvian Rye would be the bread I would buy from Arbutus the most, and luckily we had the pleasure of learning to make it from Ivers, the baker responsible for this loaf being on the Arbutus shelves. He also refers to it as sweet and sour rye bread, it has a really distinct flavour from the sugar, salt, and carraway seeds that they add to the mix. It is delicious.
The second bread we did was the classic Irish Brown Soda Bread. This is probably the quickest and easiest bread anyone can make, and every Irish family seems to have their own variation. However, the Arbutus brown was so good I will have to ditch my usual recipe and make this one going forward. It’s so soft and flavoursome, with the most amazing thick crust on the outside. What is even better is that there is no kneading, proving and knocking back involved so if you’re new to bread making, this is the recipe for you. Apparently the taste varies depending on whether you make it in the crossed cake shape (like pictured) or in a tin, with the round cake shape being preferable. This is the bread that cheered me up at 5am yesterday morning with a nice spoon of Flynn’s Kitchen raspberry jam on the long road back to Dublin.
Ingredients (For 2 loaves):
1 kg of course brown flour (Howards One Way or Odlums work well)
360g White Flour
25g Bread Soda
25g Cream of Tartar
75g Macroom Oatmeal (Or other stoneground or steel cut oatmeal)
1.5 litre Buttermilk (a little soured if possible)
50ml Sour Cream
Few handfuls of Extra Course Brown Flour for coating the loaf (Howards Extra Strong)
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together apart from the oats. Mix these together well by fluffing the ingredients up from underneath (this also adds some air into the mix and takes away the density of the loaf.)
2. Mix all the wet ingredients and add the oats to soften out for about 20 to 30 minutes. Mix the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together well, again by fluffing the ingredients up with your hands.
3. Sprinkle your work surface with the extra coarse flour and place the dough on top, shape into a round with your hand and carefully flip it upside down to coat the other side (it’s a very soft wet dough, so be careful not to put your hand through it.
4. When your dough it nicely coated with the coarse flour let it sit for 10 minutes, then cut a cross on top and pop into an oven heated to 240C for about 40 minutes. When it’s done it should have a hollow sounds when tapped on the bottom, also when you press down on the top the bread should hold its shape and not sink down.
5. Enjoy this with pretty much anything! I love a piece hot from the oven with butter and jam, but it’s also perfect with soups and for sandwiches.