MAKES ONE 7 1/2" ROUND LOAF
Peter Ward, founder of the Country Choice grocery in County Tipperary, devised this recipe for his son Jeff, who missed homebaked bread while a student at University College Dublin. As Peter recounted to us, Jeeff had no experience and few utensils in his student-housing kitchen, but "I knew that every Irish student has a pint glass, which he's brought home from a pub, so I invented a recipe for the simplest bread in the world, one whose ingredients he could measure out with a pint glass." If you use the same to measure the ingredients, note that the vessel in question is a 20-ounce imperial pint glass.
1 pint glass (2 1⁄2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 pint glass (2 1⁄2 cups) stone-ground whole wheat
Enough baking soda to coat the bottom of a pint glass
Enough salt to coat the bottom of a pint glass
Enough butter to coat the bottom of a pint glass
3⁄4 pint glass (1 3⁄4 cups) buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of the all-purpose flour over the center of a baking sheet and set aside. Put 2 tsp. of the all-purpose flour into a small bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, put remaining all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix well with your hands to combine. Add butter, breaking it up into small pieces with your fingers, and mix it into flour mixture until combined. Make a well in the center of the flour–butter mixture and add buttermilk. Slowly incorporate buttermilk into flour mixture with your hands until a rough ball forms, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a neat ball (without kneading).
2. Transfer dough to center of baking sheet and press gently to form a 7 1/2"-wide round. Using a sharp knife, slash a cross 1/2" deep across the entire top of the loaf and dust top of loaf with the reserved flour. Bake until bread is light golden and a tap on the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow, about 70 minutes. Wrap bread in a clean kitchen towel, prop against a windowsill, and allow to cool for about 2 hours. Slice and serve at room temperature or toasted, with a slathering of Irish butter, if you like.