It’s hard to imagine, but I’m pretty sure there must be a few diners eating at Fable and Spirit restaurant in Newport Beach who don’t include Irish Guinness Brown Bread in their order. Pity. To my palate, this is a must-have winner. I suspect the Michelin inspectors enjoyed a slice or two before recently honoring the restaurant with a Bib Gourmand award.
Served with Honey Butter (Kerrygold Irish Butter mixed with clover honey and topped with coarse salt), this is the kind of treat that could play the main role in sweet daydreams. Ina Garten, cookbook expert and Food Network star, has a recipe that comes close to delight.
Its formula calls for a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. My pan is slightly smaller, with the same depth but only measures 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches. So when I bake it, I make two, the second in a very small loaf pan. This bun is for this baker’s secret pleasure.
Ina Irish Guinness Brown Bread
Yield: 1 loaf (see story)
1 cup McCann’s Quick-Cooking Oatmeal (not instant), plus extra for sprinkling
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 bottle (11 to 12 ounces) Guinness extra stout beer, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, shaken before measuring
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus a little more for the brush
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
To serve: honey butter (unsalted butter combined with honey to taste, garnished with coarse salt)
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine. Put aside.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together beer, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well. With your clean fingers, stir the dough from the middle of the bowl outward, until well combined. It will look more like cake dough than bread dough.
3. Brush a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan with melted butter. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle the top with oatmeal. Put the bread in the oven, immediately lower the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Unmold the bread on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Slice and serve with honey butter.
Source: Adapted from Ina Garten, Food Network
A question about the kitchen? Contact Cathy Thomas at [email protected]