Irish Brown Bread.

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More bread! From Éire!

When we visited Ireland late last year I bought a loaf of brown bread in Avoca on one of our first days there. For the next several days I very much enjoyed getting up in the morning and having a slice (or uh…maybe two) with lots and lots of Kerrygold slathered all over it.

It wasn’t just in the morning, either. I ate a lot—a lot—of brown bread during our trip, being happy to see it at any given time of day. We had it with dinner, we had it with lunch. I’ve never been so happy to have bread and butter as a snack.

So I was eager to try and make it once we returned home. There were two challenges here, one being the flour. You can certainly use whole wheat flour to make a version of brown bread, but to get the real deal you’re going to need wholemeal flour. I was unable to find any at a store around here, so I ordered from King Arthur. That went smoothly enough except that I paid $25 for six pounds of flour plus shipping. Not ideal, but it seems to be the choice for those who know really know their brown bread.

The other challenge was the recipe. There are many and they vary wildly. Even the different loaves of brown bread I tasted in Ireland were slightly different: some sweeter, some more crumbly, some quite dark and other more mild. I’ve found recipes for brown bread that call for yeast and some in which the leavening agent is baking soda. Some call for buttermilk and some for whole milk; some cut the wholemeal with white or wheat flour and some call for molasses while still others call for black treacle. The only thing you can do is identify the brown bread you like best and go from there.

I decided to try the King Arthur recipe first, primarily because it was relatively uncomplicated. Only after I baked this loaf did I think to look up the Avoca recipe, which has a wildly different recipe. I’ll definitely try that recipe next because the Avoca bread was one of my favorites.

In the meantime, though, this loaf turned out beautifully.

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Other than family, one of the best things about our trip to Ireland was the food. This bread’s no ticket to Dublin but it brings back great memories every time I eat it. Pass the butter!

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