Simon’s mother, Lucy, made a loaf of brown bread in her kitchen in Shanagarry, Ireland, and brought it to the Allen family at Ballymaloe House, a country-house hotel nearby. The Allens, stunned by its flavor, began to make it at Ballymaloe’s famous restaurant and have served it there ever since. When we brought the recipe to our restaurant in Vermont, we gave it the Ballymaloe name. The special taste of brown bread at our own restaurants comes from the flour we use, Howards Wholemeal Flour, which comes to us from Ireland. Because this flour is not readily available to the home cook, we suggest using a good alternative like King Arthur’s Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour, which is available online and by mail order.
Ballymaloe Brown Bread
MAKES 2 loaves
- 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1 1/3 oz fresh yeast or 2 packages active dry yeast
- 3 1/4 cups warm water
- small amount of unsalted butter
- 7 cups wholemeal flour
- 2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 450°.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the molasses and yeast.
Add water and gently whisk to break up any lumps.
Allow about 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
Grease two 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pans with unsalted butter.
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt and make a well in the center of the mixture.
Add yeast mixture and mix gently by hand until thoroughly combined.
Divide batter evenly between the two loaf pans and allow batter to rise for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the dough comes to the top of the pans (be careful not to let the loaves overproof).
Bake loaves at 450° for 20 minutes.
Rotate loaves, turn heat down to 350°, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove loaves from the pans, return them to the oven upside-down, placing them directly on an oven rack, and bake for 25 minutes.
When done, the outside of the loaves should be firm.
Simon Pearce's Ballymaloe Brown Bread