I tried Odlum's Irish Brown Soda Bread mix


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/19/i-tried-odlums-irish-brown-s.html


They have an OWL as their logo, it must be good.

Of course.


no @jlw no nuts or berries or raisins. soda bread isn’t meant to be a party!!

(in all seriousness…put whatever you want in it. Add gummy bears if you like.)


Buttermilk - Butter - add that wonderful fatty shit to anything and it is instant yum (also bacon) and as Julia Child was fond of saying (use her voice in your head, you know you want to): “If you don’t use more butter - you’ll regret it!”


Yeah, I was reading an article a few weeks ago that asserted a three ingredient pasta sauce is the best sauce. Absolutely insane assertion, but I clicked. Turns out the third ingredient is nearly a full stick of butter. Of course your nasty, flavorless tomato sauce is going to be tasty! It’s a crapload of butter!


Two nights ago as an experiment I made a two ingredient pasta sauce with butter: melt some butter in a pot, add dry (dry! uncooked!) pasta and stir until coated, add broth (I used chicken stock heated in microwave), cook low until broth is absorbed into pasta (took around 10 minutes), done. This isn’t exactly going to be a staple, but I was impressed that it worked.


I think even Julia Child would agree that if you are crapping a load of butter then that is probably too much.


I find the origins of Irish Brown Soda bread fascinating. Apparently, people were starving because marauders kept stealing all of their food. So to keep from losing everything, they tried to create loaves of bread that resembled the dung of stable animals and hide them in the barn. This worked for awhile, until the marauders caught on and tasted one of the loaves to find that it was delicious. To further fool the marauders, the villagers left out the yeast, used spoilt milk, and substituted sawdust for part of the flour. When the marauders returned, one of them grabbed one of the fresh loaves, grinning a mischievous grin. He broke it in two and took a large bite. A horrified look came over his face. “What’s a matter mate? Was it really dung this time?” asked his fellow marauder. Some crumbs spilt over his unmoving lips. “No friend” he said. “It’s something much worse!”

The villagers survived, and to this day we remember the suffering they endured by making this recipe of ole, and pretending it is somehow better than regular bread so we can post pictures of it on Instagram, and email it to our less technologically inclined cousin, Helmut, who is gluten intolerant and gets really steamed when I send him bread recipes.


I’ve made that - minus the onions, and with just a few Tbsp of olive oil instead of a stick of butter - and it’s quite tasty! Canned whole tomatoes have a pretty good flavor on their own, better than off-season fresh tomatoes.

But to avoid getting too far off-topic - I have never understood the appeal of plain(-ish) soda bread. Banana bread and gingerbread and the like are all well and good, but for a plain bread I want yeast (or sourdough culture) in there, and nice gluten development, for a nice open crumb.


My family hacked Soda Bread generations ago. We make ours in a ring cake pan, more edge bits. We do raisins and sugar on top.


The Frankie’s Spuntino cookbook has a great recipe for a simple, elegant tomato sauce. It actually changed how I handle garlic. I still prefer fresh parsley and/or basil, but it’s a great template.


The odlums mix probably has you adding regular milk because it contains powdered butter milk. Soda bread won’t raise at all without an acid (the butter milk) to mix with the baking soda its named after. Butter milk won’t neccisarily make bread ■■■■■. Adding enough liquid will. These mixes, especially the European ones, often you end up not adding enough. The amount of liquid you need can vary a lot with humidity. You can make a conversion error. Or it can just be stale. It can also be the result of over mixing.

Its also not supposed to be ■■■■■ per se. Its bread. Not a muffin or a cake. You don’t want it dry, crumbly and leaden. But you don’t want that shit wet.

Just add more milk next time. You want a really loose, shaggy, wet batter/dough that only barely holds up its own weight to be shaped. Your loaves look entirely too ball shaped. You want a wide flattish disk shape. Cut your channels in the top deeper, about 1/3 of the way through the thickness. And don’t use a loaf pan. Bake on a baking stone/steel or a sheet pan. This stuff needs space to expand. And the very low gluten content means its not too good at expanding up. It likes to move outward.

Odlum’s mix is decent so far as mix goes. But your much better off tracking down actual Odlums flour and using it for your standard recipe. The Odlums whole meal has big craggy chunks of bran and plenty of germ going on. Tastes even wheatier and what have then dumping germ into an american flour. The mix is a mix. Even if you just mix the whole meal with American white. Instead of getting both white and brown Odlums its a big improvement over trying to make American flour work.




I’d draw issue with it being labeled nasty and flavorless.

Pomodoro is basically just tomato cooked down briefly in olive oil with some salt. And sometimes basil. Shit is delicious if the tomato is fresh in season.

Simplicity is neither bad. Nor bland.


Now you’re just taunting us.


I absolutely agree. It’s just those aren’t the three ingredients I would use. Emulsifying butter into anything is wonderful, but also kind of like cheating in a pasta sauce. My recipe is only a few more ingredients: tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, fennel seed, oregano and finished with fresh parsley or basil and occasionally lemon juice and/or balsamic.

To each their own. This one just makes me feel queasy.


My confused brain combined two BB posts and when I saw the picture of the finished loaf I thought someone was going to cut it into a cube using a water jet.


where’s the cheating in adding tasty things together to make tastier things? It’s not like tomato sauces arent supposed to taste good. Or are hard to make taste good.

More over there’s a big section of Italy where butter, not olive oil, is the regular cooking fat. Mounting tomato sauce with butter. Even quite a lot. Is pretty damn traditional. And one of the great classic pasta sauces is pretty much all butter (browned butter, usually with Sage).

I got shown how to make effectively the same sauce by a couple guys from the north of Italy. Slightly less butter and a splash of pasta water to bind it together. No garlic or herbs. Nice simple pantry sauce. But even better with fresh heirloom tomatoes in the base.


Only in my opinion which is worth exactly as much as you’d suspect ;~)


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