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Mrs. McCann's Irish Oatey Soda Bread

4 cups unbleached white flour
11/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup McCann's quick cooking oatmeal
1/3 cup McCann's steel-cut oatmeal
21/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup firmly packed sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
11/2 to 2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly dust the surface of a baking sheet with flour. (We used parchment paper lightly coated with nonstick spray.)

Stir together the flour, oats (we used the McCann's steel-cut oatmeal -- it provides a lot of the texture -- but used regular oatmeal instead of McCann's quick-cooking oatmeal), sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. Using fingertips, quickly rub in the butter. Make a well in the center and gradually stir in the buttermilk with a wooden spoon until the dough is soft, but manageable. (We used all 2 cups of the buttermilk, but the dough was still quite crumbly.)

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for about 1 minute. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the center of the prepared baking sheet. With the palm of your hand, flatten the dough into a circle that is about 11/2 inches thick (our circle of dough was 71/2 inches in diameter). Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, make a cross (do not cut too deep) through the center of the bread so that it will easily break into quarters when it is baked. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Makes one loaf.

Irish Food Board

Thursday, March 16, 2000

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