March 16th, 2010

Two Breads: One Soda, One Yeast; Both Quick, No Kidding

frizzled leek foccacia

Two resolutions intersect nicely in this post. (I enjoy the economy of a such a thing! ) Desiring both to incorporate more whole grains in our diet AND bake more bread, I’d like to share a couple of truly simple and delicious recipes that are done on the fly—in terms of bread-time. Neither requires extensive pre-planning.

One is Brown Irish Soda Bread, here just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day. Whole wheat and rye flours are mixed in with unbleached white, which gives added dimension of flavor to Ireland’s national dish, without added heaviness. A handful of currants are just right for a little pop of sweet, pleasant background interest.

From start to finish, this baking project takes under an hour, and rewards your efforts with two pretty loaves.

irish soda bread

Maggie and I baked this together in her kitchen, and used her buttermilk. What a good find! Organically produced, it was not reduced in fat; its rich, luxurious pour contributed to the bread’s supple texture and subtle tang. If you can find whole buttermilk, I recommend it.

in the oven

Rather than make one large loaf, we divided the dough into two rounds. We brushed a little melted butter over the top and sprinkled some currants before placing in the oven to bake. And then, we waited—-but not long. Just enough time to brew up a small pot of coffee…..

hero outta the oven

Who knew that so few ingredients could make something so good?

The other is Focaccia, such an easy yeasted, flatbread! With minimal kneading, it only has to rise once!

simple focaccia ingredients

Again, combining a variety flours, I baked this one with a topping of frizzled leeks, olive oil, and flakes of crystally Maldon Salt.

oven ready foccacia

If you don’t have leeks, use uncooked chopped green onion, which I like almost as much. It reminds me of focaccia used for grilled sandwiches in a little corner cafe in North Beach, San Francisco:
Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe.

I discovered Mario’s Bohemian over fifteen years ago, a charming, odd angled neighborhood bar with a minimal menu—terrific sandwiches made with a green onion-flecked focaccia that was freshly baked in the ‘hood, and brought in daily. (I loved the sandwich with grilled eggplant.)

Even though it’s kinda touristy now, it’s so small and still retains its community sense of place. You can get a great cuppa Graffeo coffee there too….beans roasted just up the street.

golden brown foccacia

Of course, the bread is delicious by itself, or as an accompaniment to a bowl of soup. But you might want to try it as a grilled sandwich, in the Mario’s Bohemian manner. Yesterday, Bill had his with this bowl of tomato-vegetable; I had mine open-faced, with a slice of roast beef topped with horseradish cream sauce and greens. We were both very happy.

foccacia and soup 2

Frizzled Leek Foccacia
3 Cups Flour: 1 ¼ c. Unbleached All Purpose
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
¾ c. Rye Flour
1 pkg. Active Dry Yeast
1 cup tepid Water
3 T. Olive Oil
1 T. Honey
1 T. Red Wine (opt.)
1 t. Salt

1 Leek, sliced thinly, sauteed briefly in olive oil and salt
Olive Oil
Sea Salt, Maldon Salt

Stir water and yeast together in a bowl. Add olive oil, honey, salt, wine. Stir in flours until all is incorporated, forms a sticky ball. I added a little wine and honey to this, to give the yeast a little something more to eat. It seemed to enjoy it, and got well activated.

Gently knead for a few minutes to help release glutens.

Cover and allow to rise at least 45 minutes.

Turn out onto oiled baking sheet pan, and gently press out to all sides. Spread leeks over the top, dust with salt flakes, drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover again while you wait for the oven to heat: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top and bottom of flatbread is brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

cut with butter

Brown Irish Soda Bread with Currants

1 ½ cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 ½ cup Whole Wheat Flour
¾ cup Rye Flour
1 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Salt
1 T. Brown Sugar
½ -1 cup dried Currants
2 cups Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well and pour in buttermilk and currants. Begin working the liquid throughout the flour, dough will be a little wet and sticky, scone-like. Turnout onto work surface and lightly knead. If it’s too wet, add a little flour. Divide and form into 2 balls.

With a sharp knife, score an X across the top, bringing the knife to the edges. This will help the bread rise evenly. Place onto a buttered baking sheet pan and place into the oven.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until done. The rounds of bread will have a hollow sound when thumped.

Slice and serve warm with a slap of butter on it, and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea. To the Luck of the Irish!

nice foccacia slice

Posted in Breads, Recipes

15 Responses to “Two Breads: One Soda, One Yeast; Both Quick, No Kidding”
  1. Tracy (Amuse-bouche for Two) Says:

    They both look incredible. I wouldn’t mind having a square of foccacia right now. Frizzled leeks sound absolutely delicious.

  2. Allison Wright Says:

    I keep reading about Irish Soda Bread with St. Patty’s Day around the corner…I might have to try my hand at this recipe. Looks wonderful!

  3. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    These breads look wonderful! I used to stop by now and then at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store for coffee, and I often walked by Graffeo coffee when in North Beach. These are fond memories.

  4. Barbara Says:

    The Irish soda bread looks lovely, however, foccacia bread has always been one of my faves. Thank you for presenting a recipe that even I can follow! It looks absolutely delicious.

  5. Leisa Hammett Says:

    LOVE this! It’s beautiful. Makes me hungry. Love the writing, the spirit of community, the pictures made me feel as if I were there…the instructions broken down….I’d be interested in the soup recipe, too!

  6. veg head Says:

    You make it look so easy….love foccaccia,
    and I didn’t know that the soda bread
    could be so worthwile. Thanks!

  7. BAN Says:

    Looks Great! No Kidding!!

  8. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Leisa, the soup recipe is good, but nothing special—onions, carrots, garlic, zucchini sauteed together in a glug of olive oil with a little salt and pepper—then I added canned tomatoes and leftover rice…made in a flash!

  9. rachel Says:

    I am yet to realise my bread making resolutions but when I do these will be made. I really love soda bread (especially with currants) lot of nostalgia there, I had an Irish grandfather and it was his favourite with lots of cold butter.
    I have made Mushroom ragu inspired by your post twice now, Vincenzo loves it and I am going to make it again for a vegetarian supper on sat – which is tomorrow – yikes need to go shopping now.
    Spring is really here now. Sorry, very long comment will be more concise next time.

  10. Renee Says:

    I *believe* I can make this bread.

    Appears that I’m working my way through the phases of behavior change.


  11. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Rachel—I’m so glad that my mushroom ragu inspired some good cooking–and Vincenzo’s appreciation. It feels Very Springy here today. Grateful! No comment is too long—always welcome your commentary!

    Renee—BELIEVE. I believe you can too!!

  12. mark Says:

    Foccaccia is one of my favorites. Using the blend of flours is a good twist. When I make it, I add sugar to help my yeast bloom, next time I might try the honey another nice twist.

  13. Kira Beth Says:

    I made the irish soda bread last week and it was fantastic! Going to make it again for as a gift to relatives I will see this weekend. Thank you for sharing this great recipe with us!
    Kira Beth

  14. goodfoodmatters Says:

    that’s great, Kira Beth! I love to hear about these successes.

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