Happy Birthday, Joey!
Today is my beloved sister's birthday, and I can think of nothing better to give her than this marvelous recipe. I know it's going to mean the world to her, because it's a familiar taste from our childhood--delectable, nutty, rough hewn brown bread, unlike anything else in the world.
Almost more amazing than having found this incredible bread, is that this recipe is the easiest thing I've ever made. I'm still reeling from my first attempt, though this is the third I've made this week. It seems that I can't stop!
This bread was perfected at the renowned Ballymaloe Cooking School, which I hope to visit one day soon. I found it in Darina Allen's marvelous cookbook, 30 Years at Ballymaloe, and still can't believe that this wonderful crumb and glorious crust is easily had with no kneading and an hour and a half, start to finish. That's mostly all rising and oven time as the actual mixing takes only 3 minutes tops, lickety-split!
The key here is the flour. I ordered my Irish-style wholemeal flour by King Arthur and it came in just a couple of days--long enough to track down some proper Lyle's Treacle, and to have a fruitless search for fresh yeast, and to give up in disgust and decide to make do with an envelope of Hodgson Mill Active Dry Yeast.
I can't urge you strongly enough to go to the trouble...because really, ordering the flour is the only effort you're going to have to make. Well, that and when, like me, you order three more bags the next day so you can make it through another few weeks of this bread baking frenzy.
So Happy Birthday, Joey! And you'll never guess what you're getting for Christmas too!
Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread
Makes 1 loaf
3 1/3 cups Irish-style wholemeal flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Maldon salt
2 cups warm tap water, divided
1 teaspoon Lyle's Treacle (it comes in a lovely red tin)
1 5/16 ounce envelope, Hodgson Mill Active Dry Yeast (or other active dry yeast)
Sunflower oil for greasing the pan
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Mix both of the flours with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Measure out 1/2 cup of the warm water in a Pyrex bowl. Stir in the treacle and pour in the yeast. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to start to work. Meanwhile, grease a 5 x 8-inch loaf pan with the sunflower oil, and cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper cut to size.
Check to see if the yeast is rising. It should have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.
Give the yeast a quick stir and pour it over the flour, along with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water. Mix well to form a loose, wet dough which will be too wet to knead. Put the mixture into the greased pan. Transfer the pan to a warm place and cover the top with a clean towel to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside for 10-20 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen, or until the bread rises just to the top of the pan. The bread will continue to rise in the oven; this is called "oven spring." Don't allow the bread to rise beyond the top of the pan before it goes into the oven or it will continue to rise and flow over the top.
Bake the bread in the hot oven for 20 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 400 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes until it looks nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Remove the bread from the pan, remove the parchment paper, and put it back into the oven upside down for about 10 minutes, to crisp up all over.
Cool on a wire rack, and then serve with lashings of Irish butter, jam, honey or cheese. Makes incredible toast too!
--adapted with love and endless gratitude from 30 Years at Ballymaloe by Darina Allen, Kyle Books