Rustic Whole Grain Soda Bread
The heat from the oven blows hot against my skin as I reach for the cast iron handle, thick towel in hand. The pan is heavy, made heavier by the crusty, dense loaf that it holds. The smell is wonderful. It smells of warm wheat, and toasted oats and seeds.
My little girls can always tell when I’ve made my soda bread. They can smell it cooking in the oven, and my oldest asks if she can have it. My one-year-old just scouts on her bottom in to the kitchen and looks at me, expectant. Soon enough, they’ll be happily nibbling away at handfuls of the warm, thick slices, crumbs sprinkling the floor. That’s okay. I can always sweep. It’s all part of the ritual we’ve developed – one that is close to our hearts. We’re Italian, after all. In the end, isn’t it always about the bread?
There’s a real sense of accomplishment that comes with making your own loaf of bread. Soda bread is no exception, though it is far less complicated than those breads that require yeast and kneading and such. This is no pillowy French loaf or sourdough. This is a seriously hearty country bread, the kind that toasts like a dream. Under fried eggs, grilled with cheese, or just straight from the pan to your mouth, it’s simply perfect. The seeds and millet lend a subtle crunch to the texture. The outer crust is wonderfully crisp, the inside soft and cakey. There’s a hint of sweetness from the molasses, accented by a touch of salt in each bite.
Why is it good for you?
The whole grains in this bread are abundant. The oats, millet, quinoa, and whole wheat flour are all high in protein and fiber. Fiber reduces bad cholesterol, satisfies hunger longer, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Whole grains also offer important minerals like magnesium, which has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce heart attack risk.
Poppy seeds are dense in bone-loving calcium and phosphorous, as well as iron. Sunflower seeds are a great source of copper, which is great for skin and hair health and supports your metabolism. Just one ounce of sunflower seeds contains 2/3 of your daily need for vitamin E.
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. millet
- 1/4 cup quinoa
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for topping
- 1 3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used low fat)*
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for pan
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in pieces
- 3 tablespoons light or dark molasses
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. milk (I used 2%)
- 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
- In a small saucepan, combine millet, quinoa, 3/4 cup of the yogurt, 3/4 cup of water, and 1 cup of oats. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
- Remove pan from heat and allow to sit for 2 hours, or until a thick paste has formed.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Brush a 9" cast iron skillet with olive oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, flaxseed, salt, baking soda, and sunflower seeds.
- Using your hands, work the butter pieces in to the flour until the largest crumbs are no larger than a pea.
- Form a large well in the center of the flour mix and add the oat mixture, molasses, milk, 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. yogurt, and 1 Tbsp. oil. Mix together first using a spoon, then using hands as the mixture becomes thick.
- When well combined, form the dough in to a ball and place in the prepared pan.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 Tbsp. of yogurt with 1 Tbsp. water and stir until smooth.
- Brush the yogurt mixture over the top of the dough with a pastry brush.
- Sprinkle oats and poppy seeds over the top of the dough.
- Using a knife, cut a large X in the top of the dough.
- Bake in preheated oven for 60-80 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (the internal temperature should be around 180-190 degrees F.) Allow to cool in pan.
*If using Greek yogurt, reduce total amount to 1 1/4 cups yogurt and mix in 1/3 cup milk or water until smooth. Use mixture in place of plain yogurt in recipe.
Recipe adapted from Seeded Whole Grain Soda Bread recipe on Bon Appetit.