Mixed breads arranged on a plate

Irish Soda Bread With Ancient Grains (Rye, Barley, Oats, Spelt)

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I have been making lots of soda bread recently and this week I have been experimenting with ancient grains like rye, barley, oats and spelt.

Rye

Rye and Caraway Soda Bread cut into slices on plate
Rye and Caraway Soda Bread
Rye and caraway soda bread served with smoked salmon and cream cheese arranged on a plate
Rye and Caraway Bread – perfect with
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese

The loaves made using rye flour were very successful. I used both dark and light rye flours and both worked well. I preferred the loaf made with dark rye flour but the one made with light rye flour was also tasty.

I included caraway seeds (often used in rye bread) and a little treacle which gave the bread a hint of sweetness.

It was very good served with cheese and excellent with smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Barley

Barley Soda Bread cut into slices on a plate
Barley Soda Bread

I had never used barley flour before so I looked up barley bread in my bread making ‘bible’ – Elizabeth David’s ‘English Bread and Yeast Cookery’ published in 1977. I have a very well used copy with pages falling out.

She gives two recipes, one for a yeasted loaf and one for a soda bread. The proportions of barley flour to wheat flour in these differ considerably. In the soda bread recipe (a traditional recipe from the Isle of Man) the proportion of barley to wheat is 3 : 1. In the yeasted loaf it is 1 : 3 ie: a lot less barley. As she says, a loaf made with 100% barley can be heavy and dry. I thought the higher proportion used in the traditional recipe would probably result in rather a heavy loaf.

For my soda bread I have used barley flour and wheat flour in equal quantities which produced a tasty loaf.

Oats

I don’t think I can improve on the Irish oatmeal bread I have been making for years. It is especially delicious for breakfast with butter and marmalade.

Spelt

Slices of date and walnut loaf arranged on a plate
My Date and Walnut loaf is made using spelt flour
Mug of tea with slices of buttered walnut and date loaf
Time for a break – buttered date and walnut loaf!

You can substitute white and brown spelt flour for wheat flour in both basic soda bread recipes very successfully. I made a date and walnut loaf using spelt flour. I based the recipe on the one I use for date and walnut scones.

Irish Soda Bread With Ancient Grains

I made four different breads – Rye and Caraway, Barley, Irish Oatmeal and Data and Walnut.

Ingredients

  • Rye and Caraway Soda Bread
  • 10 oz plain flour

  • 6 oz rye flour (dark or light)

  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 dessert spoon of treacle

  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 12 fl oz buttermilk (or sour milk)

  • Barley Soda Bread
  • 8 oz barley flour

  • 8 oz plain flour

  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  • 2 oz butter

  • 10-12 fl oz buttermilk (or sour milk)

  • Irish Oatmeal Soda Bread
  • 225 gm / 8 oz / 1 1/2 cups fine oatmeal

  • 225 gm / 8 oz / 2 cups plain white flour

  • 1/2 pint / 300 ml / 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or sour milk)

  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 level teaspoon of salt

  • 1 dessert spoon of sugar

  • Date and Walnut Spelt Soda Bread
  • 8 oz white spelt flour

  • 8 oz brown spelt flour

  • 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

  • 2 oz butter

  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 6 oz dates roughly chopped

  • 4 oz walnuts roughly chopped

  • 12 fl oz buttermilk (or sour milk) approx.

Directions

  • Rye and Caraway Soda Bread
  • Mix the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.
  • Stir in the caraway seeds.
  • Warm the treacle by standing the tin in a bowl of hot water.
  • Add a dessert spoon of treacle to the buttermilk (or sour milk).
  • Add the buttermilk/treacle mixture to the flour and mix to a soft dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured work surface and shape into a round.
  • Place your round of dough into a greased cast iron casserole dish and cover with a lid.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven 400F / 200C (180C fan) / Gas mark 6 for 55-60 minutes until well risen and browned.
  • Turn out your loaf from the casserole dish. To check if it is done tap the base of the loaf – it is done if it sounds hollow.
  • Wrap in a clean tea towel and cool on a wire rack.
  • Barley Soda Bread
  • Mix the dry ingredients together.
  • Rub in the butter.
  • Mix to a soft dough with the buttermilk (or sour milk).
  • Turn out onto a floured working surface and shape into a round.
  • Place in a greased cast iron casserole and bake in a pre-heated oven 400F / 200C( / Gas mark 6 until well risen and browned.
  • Turn your loaf out of the casserole dish, wrap in a clean tea towel and cool on a wire rack. Barley bread is very good with cheese.
  • Irish Oatmeal Soda Bread
  • Soak the oatmeal in the buttermilk (or sour milk) overnight.
  • Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the soaked oatmeal and mix together to make a soft dough.
  • Tip dough onto a floured working surface and shape into a round 1 1/2 inches / 4 cm thick.
  • Place on a floured baking tray and bake for 30 minutes at 400F / 200C (180C Fan) / Gas Mark 6. Then lower the temperature to 350F / 180C (160C Fan) / Gas Mark 4 for another 15-20 minutes.
  • When cooked the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the base.
  • Wrap in a clean tea towel and cool on a wire rack.
  • Date and Walnut Spelt Soda Bread
  • Mix the flours, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda together.
  • Rub in the butter.
  • Stir in the chopped dates and walnuts.
  • Mix to a soft dough with the buttermilk (or sour milk).
  • Turn out onto a floured working surface and shape into a round.
  • Place the dough inside a greased cast iron casserole dish and put on the lid.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven 400F / 200C (180C Fan / Gas Mark 6 for approximately one hour.
  • Turn your loaf out of the casserole dish, wrap in a clean tea towel and cool on a wire rack.

Notes

  • When the Date and Walnut loaf is cold, slice and butter. Make a pot of tea, put your feet up and enjoy!

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