If you like you can substitute part unbleached all-purpose white flour for an equivalent amount of the whole-wheat flour. Your result will still have plenty of flavor and texture. If you must get into it before it cools, break, rather than cut, the loaf.

  • ½ cup rolled oats (thick preferred; certainly not instant)
  • 3 cups (14 ounces) whole-wheat flour, the best that can be had
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ tablespoons organic sugar or evaporated cane juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk, or yogurt thinned with whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • ½ cup currants or raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Whiz the dry ingredients in a food processor for a few pulses. Cut the butter in 1/2-inch slices and add; pulse until like meal. Turn mixture into large bowl. Quickly and lightly stir in the remaining ingredients, adding a bit more liquid if needed. Do not knead. Pat the dough into a flattened round on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Act decisively and swiftly. Incise a deep cross into the loaf, and pop it in the oven. Bake about 70 to 80 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a rack most of the way before breaking into it. Slices very well when entirely cool. It keeps far better, wrapped airtight, than most chemically-leavened breads.

Makes one large loaf.

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Paula Marcoux is a Plymouth food historian and the author of Cooking with Fire (Storey, 2014). She likes her corned beef grey and point-cut.