The Essential Bread Recipe That James Beard *Himself* Swore By
If you're one of the many bread makers to rise up from the ranks of recent SIP orders then we have a loaf for you. James Beard's Irish Whole-Wheat Soda Bread is "one of the best tea or breakfast breads I know, and it makes a wonderful toast for any meal," Beard said in his 1973 classic Beard on Bread. Now you can score a baker's dozen of his *best* bread recipes (with yeast and without) in the new e-short The Essential Bread Cookbook. The "Dean of American Gastronomy," who died in 1985, is also the namesake for the James Beard Foundation, host of the James Beard Awards, which is our reason for making a ressie at any restaurant above $$.
For this soda bread recipe, Beard suggested slicing it paper thin and buttering it up. (Twist arm). Enjoy!
Irish Whole-Wheat Soda Bread
From The Essential Bread Cookbook, out now from Alfred A. Knopf as an e-book, featuring recipes from Beard on Bread by James Beard. Copyright © 1973 James Beard
Ingredients for 1 round loaf
- 3 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons regular salt
- 1 level teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
- 1½ to 2 cups buttermilk
- Combine the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to distribute the soda and baking powder, then add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough, similar in quality to biscuit dough but firm enough to hold its shape.
- Knead on a lightly floured board for 2 or 3 minutes, until quite smooth and velvety.
- Form into a round loaf and place in a well-buttered 8-inch cake pan or on a well-buttered cookie sheet.
- Cut a cross on the top of the loaf with a very sharp, floured knife.
- Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the loaf is nicely browned and sounds hollow when rapped with the knuckles. (The cross will have spread open, which is characteristic of soda bread.)
- Let the loaf cool before slicing very thin; soda bread must never be cut thick.
VARIATION: For white soda bread, use 4 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached, and the same amounts of salt and baking powder called for in the master recipe, but decrease the baking soda to ¾ teaspoon. Otherwise, the bread is prepared in exactly the same way as in the master recipe.
Look for more delicious savory and sweet bread recipes, from sourdough to rye and raisin to brioche in the e-short The Essential Bread Cookbook. Happy Baking!
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.