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    Brown Soda Bread

    Like all other Irish soda breads, Irish brown soda bread needs the leavening power of baking soda to help make it rise to the occasion. Yet this take receives an earthy boost from whole wheat flour and a touch of sweetness from molasses while steel-cut oats, a staple of Irish agriculture, bring a bit of textured crunch to the top.

    Brown Soda Bread

    2¼ cups (281 grams) stone-ground whole wheat flour
    1¼ cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour
    1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) kosher salt
    ¾ teaspoon (3.75 grams) baking soda
    2 cups (480 grams) whole buttermilk
    ¼ cup (85 grams) unsulphured molasses
    1 large egg (50 grams)
    3 tablespoons (33 grams) steel-cut oats

    Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Spray an 8½×4½-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
    In a large bowl, whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Make a well in center.
    In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, molasses, and egg. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Using one hand like a claw, mix buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients, working from center to outside of bowl, just until combined. Spoon dough into prepared pan, and spread until even. Sprinkle with oats.
    Bake until deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 200°F (93°C), 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; wrap in a clean tea towel, and let cool on a wire rack. Best served warm.

    PRO TIP: During the cooling process, we wrap our still-warm bread in a tea towel. Why? To trap the steam around the loaf, keeping the crust soft and chewy.Overmixing leads to tough baked goods. Recipes that are sensitive to overmixing the dough, like muffins, biscuits, and each of our soda breads, require you to make a flour well. This allows you to mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in a uniform manner.Think of your hand as your most prized baking tool for soda bread. Forming it into a claw and working from the center to the outside of the bowl helps combine the wet and dry ingredients with minimal risk of overworking your dough.Brown soda bread has a softer crust than your traditional yeast-leavened or sourdough bread. To add an extra note of chew to the crust, we sprinkled the top with steel-cut oats before baking.

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    Irish Cheddar White Soda Bread

    The grand symbol of Ireland’s baking, Irish soda bread is defined not by the baking soda but by the soft white wheat that grows in Ireland. Low in gluten and protein, the soft Irish wheat receives a boost from baking soda, invented in the 1800s and an immediate game changer for Irish baking. Slashed with a cross and pricked to release heat—or fairies?—our traditional soda bread is enhanced with strong Irish Cheddar, fresh dill, and ground black pepper.

    Irish Cheddar White Soda Bread

    3⅔ cups (458 grams) all-purpose flour
    1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) kosher salt
    ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
    1 cup (113 grams) course grated Irish aged white Cheddar cheese, divided
    1 tablespoon (2 grams) chopped fresh dill
    ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground black pepper
    2 cups (480 grams) whole buttermilk

    Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Stir in ⅔ cup (75 grams) cheese, dill, and pepper. Make a well in center, and add buttermilk. Using your hand like a claw, mix buttermilk into dry ingredients, working from center to outside of bowl, just until combined and a ball of dough forms. (Dough should be sticky and slightly clumpy.)
    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using floured hands, gently shape into a round. Turn dough over, and tuck and rotate dough until edges are rounded and even. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper, and pat into a 1½-inch-thick disk. Using a knife dipped in flour, cut a 1-inch-deep “X” across top of dough. Using tip of knife, prick a hole into each of the four sections of dough. Sprinkle remaining ⅓ cup (38 grams) cheese on top. Transfer on parchment paper to a baking sheet.
    Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F (200°C), and bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in a section of bread registers 200°F (93°C), 15 to 20 minutes more. (If you tap bottom of loaf, it should sound hollow.) Remove from pan, and place on a wire rack. Let cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Best served warm.

    Hollow Note: Perfectly baked soda bread doesn’t just have a golden look and tender texture—it makes a lovely hollow sound when knocked with a knuckle. Give the bottom a tap to hear the echo of a well-baked loaf.Our soda bread dough can be a little sticky to work with, so we used floured hands to help shape it. As you tuck and rotate the dough, keep in mind that it should be a rustic round—not perfect. If you try to make it pristine, you risk overhandling the dough, making it tough.Use a floured knife to keep the sticky dough from tearing while you make your incision. Though you may think of it as mere decoration, make sure your cross is 1 inch deep, as this deep scoring allows the hot steam to be released from the bread while baking.As an added bonus to the good luck from the cross-scoring on top, this pricking in the four corners of the dough allows both fairies and heat to escape from the bread. This helps the bread rise and cook evenly. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Soda Farls

    Northern Ireland has its own signature take on soda bread in the form of farl wedges, derived from the Gaelic word fardel, roughly translated to “four part.” Though they’re traditionally baked on an open-hearth flame, we baked our farls on the more modern griddle. In keeping with the methods of the Old World, though, we harned the dough—turning and cooking the sides of the farl to make sharp, crisp edges.

    Soda Farls

    1⅔ cups (208 grams) all-purpose flour
    ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
    ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
    3 tablespoons (42 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed and divided
    ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons (225 grams) whole buttermilk
    Herb Compound Butter (recipe follows)

    In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Using your fingers, cut in 2 tablespoons (28 grams) cold butter until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Make a well in center, and add buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, stir buttermilk into dry ingredients, working from center to outside of bowl, just until combined and a dough forms.
    Turn out dough onto a heavily floured surface, and flour top of dough. Using floured hands, tuck and rotate dough until edges are rounded and even. Pat into an 8-inch circle (½-inch thickness). Using a knife dipped in flour, cut into quarters.
    Preheat a cast-iron griddle to medium heat. (See Note.) Add remaining 1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter to griddle.
    Brush and shake off any excess flour from dough quarters, and place, not touching, on hot griddle. Cook until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. (Bread will double in size and puff up; if you want a neater look, use knife or bench scraper to keep edges straight.) Turn, and cook until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. (If you tap bottom of loaf, it should sound hollow.) Stand each farl on its side, and place side by side. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes; repeat with remaining 2 sides. Serve warm with Herb Compound Butter.

    A 12-inch cast-iron skillet will work, too. Cook farls until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

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    Herb Compound Butter

    ½ cup (113 grams) salted butter, softened
    1 tablespoon (2 grams) chopped fresh dill
    1 tablespoon (2 grams) chopped fresh tarragon
    1 teaspoon (1 gram) lemon zest

    In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients until well combined. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Let stand until softened before serving.

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