Sure, I could blame my desire to bake this soda bread on the fast approaching holiday that has my city dying its river green and encouraging its residents to “celebrate” (read: drink/gulp/imbibe/etc as much as possible, preferably on the South Side) for about 10 days straight. But, honestly, the ingredient featured in the title (brown butter) is what had me sold. Plus, I’ve got an even better St. Patrick’s Day post planned that will be here soon enough.
Not only does this bread feature brown butter (a decadence that I try to enjoy sparingly; as in, I haven’t trusted myself to go near it since I made this back in December), but it also uses minced woodsy rosemary and a rather obscene amount of fresh-cracked pepper, two of my favorite savory ingredients. And it’s also got a hefty dose of buttermilk, one of my favorite baking ingredients. Finally, after swabbing the circular loaves with an egg wash, you get to slice an “X” onto the top of each loaf. And I think the fun of that speaks for itself. What? That’s not your idea of fun? Your loss.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
When the breads are baked, you’ll have two golden rustic rounds, offset by their pale “X’s.” The recipe cautions you to let the loaves cool at least 30 minutes. But, if you’re like me, the smells of all those fabulous ingredients melded together will have you saying “pishaw” to that. In fact, 30 seconds might just be a challenge. And, if you’re like me, you’ll tear off a piece of the still-hot loaf (so hot I might have had to wear an oven mitt just to touch it), letting out a gush of steam. And, burning-your-tongue-be-damned, you’ll sample a piece right then and there. But, that’s just if you’re like me.
Brown Butter Soda Bread
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional for topping
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg white, beaten to blend
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Stir butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until melted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir flour, oats, sugar, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Pour buttermilk and melted browned butter over flour mixture; stir with fork until flour mixture is moistened.
Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead gently until dough comes together, about 7 turns. Divide in half. Shape each half into ball; flatten each into 6-inch round. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheet, spacing 5 inches apart. Brush tops with beaten egg white. Sprinkle lightly with ground black pepper. Using small sharp knife, cut 1/2-inch-deep X in top of each dough round.
Bake breads until deep golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool breads on rack at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.