Whole Wheat Irish Herb Bread smells heavenly while baking ... like a combination of cake and Thanksgiving dressing. It has a bit of sweeteness from light brown sugar, basil, thyme, and marjoram for that herby flavour, and currants for a nice sweet chew. Plop it on a pretty bread board. Serve it up warm with some soft butter for smearing and a cup of strong tea. You'll swear you're back in Ireland ... all you need is a peat fire and some back music!
Happy St Paddy's Day!
Beth Hensperger's Whole Wheat Irish Herb Bread
Makes: 2 - 8-inch round loaves
2 c. all purpose flour
2 c. whole wheat flour
⅓ c. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried marjoram
½ c. pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1 c. dried currants
1½ c. cold buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. melted butter
Making the Bread:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease two 9 inch cake pans.
- Measure the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, herbs, and seeds and currants into a deep bowl and whisk together to mix thoroughly and coat the currants.
- In another bowl, whisk together the cold buttermilk and eggs. Pour in the melted butter and whisk quickly.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix quickly just until most of the flour is incorporated and the dough forms a wet raggedy ball.
- Turn the dough and any extra flour onto a lightly floured board. Knead the rest of the flour and seeds and currants into the dough with quick brisk punches … no more than a dozen.
- Use knife to divide the dough in half.
- Grease your hands with some canola oil and gather the dough balls into smooth balls.
- Plop them into the prepared pans and flatten them to 8-inch circles.
- Grease the knife blade and make a cross in the top of each loaf.
- Pop the bread into the oven and bake for 35 minutes. The bread browns up nicely, but rap it to confirm that it’s done. It will sound ‘thunk’ hollow.
- Remove from the pans and cool slightly on racks.
- Serve immediately for best flavour and texture. If you must store it, put it in a zip-lock bag while it’s still warm and close the bag to hold in humidity/moisture. If you don’t do this the crust becomes hard and too crisp and the bread dries out fast.