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Tuesday
Sep202011

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

Today I had a very real lesson in the value of a good night's sleep. It wasn't pretty.

For the last month, I've neglected to mention that I started working at a patisserie. While I love making pastries for people, I don't love getting up at five in the morning to do it. Oh, the joy of a baker's hours! It has taken awhile, but I can successfully pull myself out of bed at precisely 5:12 am (so long as I immediately turn on the light. A few seconds too late and I'll find myself sleeping like a baby right through the workday). The only problem is that I can't seem to get myself to bed before eleven.

Less than six hours of sleep every night, for a month, leaves a mark. It usually takes the form of a nasty burn from a cupcake pan or a gash from a bagel knife.

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

Today my lack of sleep finally caught up with me. I had the mother of all off days. I forgot to put on my apron and only remembered after I spilled flour down my front (may it be known that I am ever graceful.). I dropped pans with horrific clanging. I charred bagels to a gorgeous shade of ash. I often wandered around having completely forgotten what I was meant to be doing or what tool I was trying to find.

Though that last one happens more often than I'd care to admit.

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

Perhaps worst of all, I went to reheat some chocolate in the microwave. After setting the timer for 30 seconds, I went back to work. After a good bit of time had passed, my coworker let out a yell as plumes of black smoke poured out the microwave. Apparently I hadn't set the timer to 30 seconds, as I had thought. Lord knows what I actually set it to.

The patisserie filled with a thick, hazy smoke. Many a coughing fit was had. Customers walked in very concerned that something was on fire and we hadn't noticed ("Is everything okay back there? Are you sure?... Are you sure you're sure?"). My coworker commented she had never seen chocolate so burnt.

Not getting enough sleep means burning chocolate. It means hurting yourself with hot and sharp kitchen tools. It means wasting time wandering around in mass confusion. It means burning pastries and messing up recipes. It means being exhausted all day, every day.

While getting to bed at a reasonable hour is hard (a month later and I'm still working at it), I've learned that getting sleep is actually important (who knew?). So, if you'll excuse me, I think I hear my pillows are calling me. It's must be time for bed.

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

Luckily, this Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread is so simple to make even a sleep-deprived person couldn't mess it up. True story. Soda bread, if you've never made it for yourself, is a quick bread that rises without needing yeast. The bread itself reminds me of a biscuit—crumbly, dense, and ever so sweet. This tender bread is perfect served with jam for breakfast or a thick spread of butter as a side with dinner.

One Year Ago: Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

Yields 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients to form a soft dough. Shape dough into a ball, place onto prepared baking sheet, and flatten the top. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/2-inch deep cross into the top of the loaf. Dust lightly with flour. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Serve with a spread of butter or jam.

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

Reader Comments (9)

As one of, I'm sure many, Irish readers I wanted to inform you that you forgot one of the most important steps in making a traditional Irish soda bread. You must pierce each quarter with the tip of your knife to let the fairies out.
I cook soda bread regularly, and yes, I let the fairies out every time.
09.21.2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Isle Reader
this looks easy enough, yes I will try it :)
09.21.2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose
Your bread looks so beautifully baked, I love soda bread, it's nice and easy for someone like me who is too impatient to wait for the dough to rise :P
09.21.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
I love soda bread! Its so simple but it tastes phenomenol lightly toasted with a little bit of preserves and butter or my personal favorite: pumpkin butter, sooo good.

Can I just say that I completely understand what you're going through and I've been there too. I've never been someone who has gone to bed early and last year when I was in pastry school and then on my externship this past summer, I too realized how important sleep is when you're in a kitchen with sharp objects and heavy equipment. I also found myself wandering around the kitchen forgetting what I was doing or getting and sometimes even running into things. Although, I'm always pretty forgetful so I'm not sure if I can blame it on a lack of sleep...lol. I've never burned anything, except maybe myself, but I've dropped plenty of trays and even spilled a few things on the floor.

In the end it is worth it! Just count it all as experience under your belt. I wish you the BEST of LUCK and Congratulations because working in the food industry is hard work. :D
09.21.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim C
Happy to hear finally you found sth that fits you!, well practically! :D)
09.21.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKS
Green Isle Reader-- I'll be sure to let the fairies out the next time I make soda bread. :)

Rose-- It couldn't be simpler!

Kim C-- Thank you so much! I think if I can remember what I'm actually doing I should be okay. Literally just a few seconds can pass and I'll have completely forgotten what I was trying to fetch Happy to hear you survived (with all limbs attached!).
09.21.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
I make this bread, but the recipe I use has a tablespoon of treacle in it as well, which adds a very slight sweetness and earthiness! As you say, it's so easy to make and delicious!
Baker's hours are rough. When I had a restaurant I used to get up early at 4am to begin my baking. Although I did not open till 11am my regulars would come by and purchase what ever I had available then they would return later for lunch. I love making whole wheat breads especially homemade excellent whole wheat Irish Soda Bread. Looks scrumptious!
02.11.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFran
Hello I am new to your blog but I just love your recipes! Your photography skills are incredible too! I have yet to try anything but I have been in the mood to bake bread so I think this irish soda bread will be the first thing I try out! It looks really yummy.
11.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley

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