I spent the past week visiting a lovely, small hotel on the rugged western coast of
Unfortunately, it was all in my imagination.
That is the setting for Maeve Binchy’s new novel, A Week in Winter. Visitors to the Stone House hotel in fictional
find renewal for
their troubled souls and an optimistic vision for the future within its restful
walls and along the wild Atlantic coast. All of Ms. Binchy’s books are warm,
comforting and intriguing, and I love the way she brings characters from
previous books into her latest novel. Sadly, Ms. Binchy passed away in July,
2012. I guess I’ll just have to go back to her first novel and read through
them all again! Stoneybridge,
When I finished A Week in Winter, I didn’t want to leave Stone House, especially it’s large, warm kitchen where everyone gathers for breakfast and dinner. I decided to cook-up a food item served in the book, and the one that stood out for me was brown bread. I’ve made Irish soda bread many times, but never this one. So, with
Patrick’s Day fast approaching, I decided to give it a try.
In my research, I found a lot of brown bread recipes were very similar to soda bread, with the addition of whole wheat flour, wheat germ and molasses (or black treacle). Then I came across this one for a yeast brown bread from the famous Ballymaloe House Hotel and Cookery School in
(It’s at the top of my bucket list of places to visit before I die.) Since I
had great success with their orange marmalade tea cake I made last year, I
decided to give it a try. County
This recipe is so simple: No kneading! Only one rise! Just five ingredients!
Don’t expect a fluffy, soft wheat bread like we have here in the
brown bread is dense, but also moist. It is perfect cut into thin slices and
spread with good, real butter. I also liked it with honey and jam, as well as
served with a good Irish cheddar.
Ballymaloe Brown Bread
3 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup warm water (just over body temperature)
1 teaspoon molasses or black treacle
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
2 teaspoons salt
Spray an 8 by 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray, or grease well with oil. Set aside.
Pour 3/4 cup of warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve the yeast, add the molasses, and leave for another 10 minutes. The yeast will become frothy. Add another 3/4 cup of warm water and stir to combine.
In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour and salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the yeast/water mixture. With a wooden spoon (or your hands) mix the flour and water together. Add more water if necessary. The dough should still be wet and sticky—too sticky to knead—but come away somewhat from the sides of the bowl.
Place the dough into the loaf pan, cover with a towel, and allow to rise until the dough just reaches the top of the loaf pan, about 20 to 25 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees while you wait.
When the dough has risen enough, bake for 30 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes. Turn the almost-done bread out onto a baking sheet and bake, upside down, for another 5 to 10 minutes so the outside crisps up. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom, or when the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. Cool on a wire rack.