This recipe was one of those very pleasant products of a pretty eccentric experimentation. I bought molasses a few weeks ago for the recipe swap Molasses Date Muffins. Molasses is not a usual suspect in my pantry. In fact, it feels quite foreign. So the other morning, I was trying to figure out what else to make with it. I also recently bought two gigantic bags of flour for the yard sale muffins. So I could definitely make some sort of bread product.
Then I came across this recipe on Epicurious for Molasses and Oat Soda Bread. Sounded perfect. Except that I didn't have oats....or buttermilk, or any milk for that matter. But intuitively, I knew I had to have other ingredients that could replace those. What sort of grain could I use that would soak up liquid? Hmmm. Oh yeah, there was puffed millet in the freezer. I had put it in there because I didn't have any other cereal or milk, and I didn't want the millet to go bad. This just might work.
The other minor issue was a lack of buttermilk or any milk for that matter. This was a stretch, but I could just use water with some vinegar in it. I decided to go for it and see. The worst that could happen would be bad bread. But as I started getting my ingredients together, I remembered a really expensive bag of organic nonfat dry milk I bought months ago from Whole Foods. My posture got a little taller. Yes, this would be perfect. It was a small example of 'If you build it...they will come'. The universe provided quite nicely to this stretch of the imagination for soda bread.
Wow did it turn out nicely too. Two little loaves that work perfectly for toast with butter and jam. Or two thin slices for a sandwich of roasted veggies and cheese (like I had that afternoon). Or peanut butter bread dipped in a cup of coffee.
Millet and Wheat Soda Bread
Yields 2 loaves
Adapted from Epicurious 'Molasses and Oat Soda Bread Recipe'
If you have rolled oats, any sort of puffed grain cereal or any other grain that would soak up the milk, you can use that. The original recipe calls for oats, which I swapped puffed millet in instead. The original recipe also has raisins, but I didn't add those in. But feel free. If you don't have buttermilk, just take regular milk and add vinegar as suggested below. It will do just fine.
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/4 cup milk with 1 1/4 tsp vinegar)
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp safflower oil (or any mild tasting oil)
1 1/2 cup puffed millet (or 1 1/2 cup rolled oats)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle cornmeal onto pizza stone or baking sheet lined with parchment or oiled. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, molasses, and safflower oil. Pour in the puffed millet (or oats). Set this aside to let the grain absorb the liquid.
In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Make a well in the center of these dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Mix all of these ingredients together until it forms a sticky dough. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, generously flour a clean surface like a large cutting board or counter. With your hands, break the dough in half. Knead one of the halves into the floured surface, until it isn't a sticky dough anymore. This should take 30 seconds to a minute. Form this into a round loaf shaped ball and place on the pizza stone or baking sheet. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough.
Using a serrated knife, cut a criss cross pattern or two parallel lines (about 3/4 inch deep) on the top of each loaf. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for about 20 more minutes, or until the loaves become dark and crispy and sound hollow when you (carefully, and with an oven mitt on) tap the bottom. Place the loaves on a rack to cool completely. Slice and eat with butter or as a sandwich. It is best to consume it the day you make it. So if you have leftovers, slice and freeze. They taste just as good when you take out of freezer and toast.