I woke up thinking about life in the mid 19th century and my relatives who came west to find a different lifestyle. I wondered what they ate and what staples they loaded onto their wagons for the long journey to California. Don’t know why I woke up thinking about this but I did.
I had an image of Pennsylvania Conestoga wagons and my sojourner relatives setting up camp at a way station. I saw them starting a fire with which to cook vittles in the early afternoon and to ward off predators at night. I visualized a Dutch oven with a simple soda bread baking for supper.
This recipe is a modern take on the simple soda bread of that period. What makes it different and super nutritious is the goodness of whole grains and seeds. Think millet, quinoa, sunflower and flax seeds.
Had my relatives used this recipe they would have prepared the quinoa/millet mixture the day before, as it needs to sit for 8 – 12 hours before use. I recommend preparing it the night before and baking the bread in the late morning of the next day so it is ready for supper.
¼ cup millet
¼ cup quinoa
1 cup old-fashioned oats (plus more for topping)
½ cup water
2¼ cups buttermilk (divided)
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons flaxseed
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ cup sunflower seeds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
3 tablespoons mild molasses
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Step 1 Directions:
Mix millet, quinoa, oats, water and 1 cup of the buttermilk in a small bowl. Cover and let sit 8–12 hours.
Step 2 Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8″-diameter cast-iron skillet with cooking spray.
Whisk whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, flaxseed, salt, baking soda, and sunflower seeds together in a large bowl. Work in butter with your fingers until largest pieces are pea-size. Make a well in the center and add molasses, vegetable oil, and the oat mixture from step 1, and remaining 1¼ cups buttermilk. Mix until dough is smooth, homogenous, and slightly sticky.
Form dough into a ball and place in skillet. Brush with a little buttermilk and top with more oats and sunflower seeds. Cut a large X into the top and bake until golden brown – about 60 minutes.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before serving.
Adapted from an original recipe in Bon Appétit Magazine.