Here’s a basic soda bread recipe, spiced up with the addition of whiskey-soaked currants, and made heartier by the addition of flaked oats. We borrowed the recipe from Jennifer McGruther, who wrote the comprehensive and lovely whole foods cookbook The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Featuring Bone Broths, Fermented Vegetables, Grass-Fed Meats, Wholesome Fats, Raw Dairy, and Kombuchas. She recommends soaking the currants in whiskey for a mere 15 minutes, but some of us feel that if you are going to soak currants in whiskey, you may as well do it overnight to get the full effect. Sometimes we even throw the soakin’ whiskey into the bread dough after the soaking step…but it makes for a very boozy bread. If whiskey isn’t a staple of your pantry, soak the currants in water for 15 minutes to make them plump and juicy.
Hearty and wholesome and studded with the tiny sweetness of currants, this bread is best with butter at breakfast or served with a creamy soup.
Makes 1 small round loaf
Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the flaked oats.
Slowly dribble 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk into the flour and oats, stirring until a soft, shaggy dough forms.
Cover the bowl and let sit in a warm place for at least 12 and up to 18 hours. Prepare the currants at this time, too, if you want them on the stronger side.
Preheat the oven to 450° F.
If you have not already done so, spoon the currants into a small bowl and cover them with whiskey. Let them soak for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, finish the bread dough. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk into the bread dough, then sprinkle in the baking soda and salt. Beat until the dough forms a uniform mass.
Flour a work surface and turn out the dough onto the surface.
Drain the currants, reserving the whiskey for later uses, perhaps, and knead the currants into the dough.
Form the dough into a ball.
Brush the loaf with heavy cream and dust the top with flaked oats.
With a serrated bread knife, score the top of the loaf about 1/2” deep.
Place the dough on a greased baking sheet, or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 450° F for 25 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 400° F and continue baking 20-30 minutes longer, until the bread is browned and fragrant.
Remove from the oven and let it cool before slicing, if you can stand it.
The bread will have a better texture if allowed to rest after baking.
Serve with plenty of butter.
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