Oatmeal Soda Bread

You could throw a loaf of Irish soda bread through a sheet-rocked wall. Easily. I’m thinking about using the last two loaves for discus training. Heavy and dense, this bread seems best with soup or saucy dishes. I was going to quit halfway through the soda bread marathon, but then I saw that the next was oatmeal, and I flashed back to my horse-feed diet days (the last 26 years), when I used to eat fistfuls of rolled oats straight out of the canister, Cheerios a box at a time. These memories convinced me to press on with the bench-pressable bread series. Heck, if I do arm and leg reps with the loaves I can quickly burn the calories acquired in consuming them.

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Oatmeal soda bread

Baking Illustrated

Makes 1 loaf

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or I use whole milk + a tbsp. vinegar)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Extra all-purpose flour (for shaping)

1 tablespoon melted butter (for brushing)

2. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.1. In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of the oats with the buttermilk. Set aside for 1 hour.

3. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast them in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until fragrant. Cool and chop coarsely.

4. In a bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup oats, all-purpose flour, cake flour, whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Work in the soft butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

5. Add the buttermilk mixture and walnuts to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork just until the dough comes together.

6. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured board. Knead lightly until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy, not smooth or the dough will be tough.

7. Pat the dough into a 6-inch round that is 2 inches high. Transfer the bread to the baking sheet. With a paring knife, mark a 3/4-inch-deep cross on top of the dough. Set the baking sheet in the oven and bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Remove the loaf from the oven and brush the surface with melted butter. Cool to room temperature.

Ooh 4 stars—this is the best soda bread yet! The key, I believe, is the slight oversight I made while supervising the soaking oats. The instructions say to soak them in the milk for one hour—I got distracted and it was more like four hours of soaking. Moist oats, nay, soggy oats make all the difference. The result tastes like a giant oatmeal cookie. Too bad I don’t have Bruce to report on the chef—Watching this clip now in the midst of a long and isolated writing week, I identify somewhat with Vol—“I work in back. I see no smiles.” Man from health department has no business in my kitchen, there are no boogers, rat pellets or giant chocolate sprinkles in my goodies.

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