Sunday, January 15, 2012

Oat Soda Bread

There are some days when I wake up and I think; "today, I want bread".  But this doesn't mean I will walk down the stairs and take a slice of bread out of bag from a store bought, no.  These are the days I want bread that I will know from start to finish; that I will make with my own hands.  It's bread that will fill my house with the tantalizing smell of freshly baked goodness, and on which I will promptly smear a slice with butter, only to have the butter melt away from the warm freshness of the dough.  Oh yes, this is the bread I crave when I want bread.  And sometimes, I cant have it fast enough.

This is why I keep recipes like this Oat Soda Bread around.  It is not as time consuming as yeast breads, and the ingredient list is impossibly simple.  It is hearty, nutty and sweet from the oats and seeds, and serves equally well as a breakfast of toast with jam in the morning, or buttered with a bowl of soup later in the day.  But regardless, when you are having those types of Bread Craving days, this can be your quick go-to without any loss of satisfaction.

Oat Soda Bread Recipe

If you don't have oat flour - which I usually don't, but almost always have old-fashioned rolled oats - you can make your own flour by blending oats in a food processor or blender until it forms a fine powder. 
butter, to grease pan
2 cups / 7 oz rolled oats
10 ounces / 285 g / ~2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 3/4 cups / 415 ml buttermilk, plus more if needed, and 2T. for brushing
mixed seeds - sesame, caraway, poppy, etc.


Preheat the oven to 400°F / 205°C with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and line a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan (or one with ~8 cup capacity) with parchment paper and set aside. Alternately, you can bake this bread without a pan on a lightly floured baking sheet.
To make the oat flour, use a food processor to pulse the rolled oats a few times. Then process into a fine powder - another minute or two. If you are buying oat flour, not making your own, measure out 7 oz / scant 2 cups.
Sift the flours, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Stir just until everything comes together into a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead for 30 seconds or so, just long enough for the dough to come together into a cohesive, slightly flattened ball without many cracks or fissures. If your dough is on the dry side, add more buttermilk a small splash at a time. Now ease the dough evenly into the prepared baking pan - see photo if you need a bit of guidance.
Brush all over the top and sides with buttermilk and sprinkle generously with mixed seeds or flour, 2 tablespoons or so. Slice a few deep slashes across the top of the dough. Bake for about 30 minutes, then quickly (without letting all the hot air out of the oven), move the rack and the bread up a level, so the top of the bread gets nice and toasted. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until a hard crust forms and the bread is baked through. It will feel very solid and sound hollow when you knock on it. Carefully lift it out of the pan, in a timely fashion, and allow to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with a good slathering of salted butter.
Makes one loaf.
Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 50 min
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

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