Royal Hibernian Brown Loaf (Irish Soda Bread)

Revised 2013-05-04

The Irish national loaf is brown soda bread, and this version from the Royal Hibernian Hotel in Dublin is one of the best - and richest. The hotel serves the bread warm and thinly sliced. Its richness comes from a generous portion of butter and eggs. - Bernard Clayton Jr

Yield 1 10" or 2 6" round loaves

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flour, all-purpose
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preparation

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 400F twenty minutes before baking.

Place the whole-wheat flour in the work bowl of a food processor and add the sugar, soda and salt.

Pulse to blend. Drop in the butter and pulse 2 (or more, if needed) times to cut it into small pieces.

In a bowl beat the egg and buttermilk together. Pour the mixture through the feed tube.

Turn the machine on briefly to allow the flour to absorb the liquid. Let stand for 3 minutes to allow the flour to fully absorb the buttermilk.

Add 1/2 cup white flour through the feed tube, and turn on the processor only long enough to mix in the flour. The dough is not to be kneaded. Remove and feel the dough. If it is wet, add more flour, but frugally. Scrape from the bowl and pat into a ball with the hands. Sprinkle with flour if necessary to control the stickiness. (I used about 3/4 of a cup of the flour. It will vary, depending on temp and humidity in your kitchen.) Shape into a plump round ball.

Pat down the top slightly, and with a knife or razor blade cut a half inch deep cross on the top.

Place the loaf on the baking sheet, and bake until it has browned and has opened dramatically along the cuts, about 45 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool before cutting into thin slices.

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Although it can be frozen, it is better freshly baked.