Ballymaloe Brown Bread

Ballymaloe Brown Bread
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Simon Pearce is probably our favorite restaurant in the country — everything we’ve had there is just so scrumptious. We no longer go there very often, at least since we’ve moved across the country, but our memories of the food are vivid, and we plan to refresh those memories this June when we head back to New England for a niece’s wedding.

One of our favorite parts about dining at Simon Pearce is the small breads they serve when you’re seated: Ballymaloe Brown Bread and Rory’s Scones. Now, we know that we’ll never match those made at the restaurant — for the Brown Bread, the restaurant imports a wholemeal flour from Ireland — but we try.

Our recipe is identical to the one provided on the Simon Pearce website, except we don’t use the same flour. We happened to use King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, which works pretty well. The flavor is very similar, but the texture of the bread is way off — King Arthur whole wheat is ground too finely — so we’re looking for other flours to try. As an aside, we now have at least six different types of flour in our pantry — we like to bake.

Ballymaloe Brown Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Ballymaloe Brown Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (80 g) unsulfured molasses
  • 4 tsp dried yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups (780 g) warm water (about 100-110°F)
  • 7 cups (980 g) wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
  • 2 tsp salt

Abbreviated Instructions

Butter two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.

Mix yeast and molasses. Add the warm water to the yeast-molasses mixture and whisk to combine.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large (4-quart) bowl, mix together the flour and salt.

Now, wait until the yeast mixture becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.

Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture.

Working with your hands, mix the flour and yeast mixture together until you have a sticky batter.

Divide the dough between the two prepared loaf pans, and let sit uncovered until the dough rises to the top of the pans, about 20 minutes.

Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, rotate the pans to ensure even baking, and bake another 20 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the pans, then place them back in the oven upside-down, directly on the rack, and bake an additional 25 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven and let cool before slicing.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/04/ballymaloe-brown-bread/

Ingredient discussion:

As mentioned above, this bread is all about the flour. Simon Pearce goes to the trouble of importing Irish wholemeal flour, and, having had their version of Balllymaloe Brown Bread, it’s worth it. If you’re looking for an appropriate flour, try to find one that’s coarsely ground from a softer wheat. King Arthur flour makes a specialty Irish wholemeal flour that looks like a good candidate, but it’s only available via mail-order.

Procedure:

Butter two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.

molasses and yeast
Pour the molasses into the yeast, or the yeast into the molasses; it doesn’t matter.

Mix yeast and molasses. In a quart or larger bowl, mix together the dry yeast and molasses. We used a large measuring cup with a pour spout that worked perfectly.

molasses and yeast
Stir yeast and molasses to eliminate any yeast clumps.

 

 

yeast mixture
Add the warm water, not too hot, or you’ll kill the yeast. Just warm to the touch is fine.

Add water. Add the warm water to the yeast molasses mixture and whisk to combine. The yeast may not all dissolve, but wait a minute and whisk again. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Mix flour and salt. In a large (4 quart) bowl mix together the flour and salt.

proofed yeast
Once it’s foamy, you’ve proofed the yeast (proved that it’s alive) and is ready to use.

Wait. Now wait until the yeast mixture becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.

Pour the yeast mixture into the flour, and mix.
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour, and mix.

Add yeast mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture.

batter
Just mix by hand; it’s messy, but it gets the job done quickly.

Mix. Working with your hands, mix the flour and yeast mixture together until you have a sticky batter. You don’t want to develop the gluten, so try to mix lightly and stop once everything is combined.

pouring batter into pans
Pour or scoop the batter into the prepared pans.

Fill pans. Divide the dough between the two prepared loaf pans, and let sit uncovered until the dough rises to the top of the pans, about 20 minutes.

batter in pans
The pans will be a little more than half full when you pour in the batter.
loaves ready for the oven
Wait until the bread has risen to the tops of the pans — no more — then into the oven.

Bake. Place the loaves into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Reduce temperature. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, rotate the pans to ensure even baking, and bake another 20 minutes.

Remove from pans. Remove the loaves from the pans, place them back into the oven upside-down directly on the rack, and bake an additional 25 minutes.

ballymaloe brown bread
Two nice loaves of Ballymaloe brown bread

Cool. Remove the loaves from the oven and let cool.

Slice thin -- about 1/4 of an inch -- and enjoy
Slice thin — about 1/4 of an inch — and enjoy

Slice and serve. Slice this bread thin, about 1/4-inch, and serve plain or with butter.

Until we find a more appropriate whole wheat flour, we have to give the version made with King Arthur whole wheat flour only four stars. The flavor is there, but the texture is wrong; that’s due to the fineness to which flours are ground here in the US. It seems as though we, as a people, don’t want to recognize that our bread is made from wheat, a crunchy, chewy grain bursting with flavor, but instead want something soft and pasty that we could eat without teeth, if necessary. And that’s a shame, because really great breads are meals in themselves.

Worth the trouble?

4 Replies to “Ballymaloe Brown Bread”

  1. I just made this bread following the recipe and at the point when I combined flour and yeast mixture, I knew it wasn’t going to work – the batter was absolutely dry. I baked both loaves and then came out flat.
    Is it because of the flour? I used Wegmans White unbleached whole wheat flour…

    1. It sounds like there was too much flour for the amount of water, as the batter is quite sticky and messy once mixed. It definitely should not be dry, as the ratio of water to flour (by weight) is nearly 80%. I double checked the amounts in the ingredient list, and they are correct as listed.

      I’ll update the recipe to include weights of flour and water in grams. We find that is more accurate for breads because it compensates for differing flour densities.

      Sorry it didn’t turn out for you, because it is a pretty good and easy bread.
      Shawn

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