When I visited Ireland many years ago, we were served this amazing bread for breakfast every morning. It is very intense, unlike any bread you will find here.
I tried for years to replicate it, searched many websites, but everytime I made it, it was, well, like a rock. Most of the recipes are similar in ingredients, so as it turns out, I was missing a technique to make it perfect. A damp towel over the bread in the cooling process keeps it soft and moist, and it brings back a memory of two lovely trips to Ireland.
So thanks to a coworker, I finally have the perfect brown bread recipe. Many versions of this you will find have raisins or black currant added, but this is the one the Irish eat daily. It is very hearty, and best just toasted with butter, and perhaps some homemade jam.
Irish Brown Soda Bread
1 cup white, all purpose flour
14 ounces buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease and flour a Dutch oven. In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk gradually to form a sticky dough. Place on a floured surface and knead lightly (too much kneading will allow the gas to escape).
Shape into a round, flat loaf the size of your Dutch oven. Place in the pan, cut a cross in the top of the loaf (the Irish say this will let the "evil spirits" out of the bread). Bake for 30 minutes covered, then remove the cover and bake for 10-15 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is lightly browned. The bottom of the loaf will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it is done.
Remove from the oven, place a damp tea towel over the top of the loaf and cover until cool. Place in an air tight bag. This will only keep a few days, so eat it quickly, and share !