Monday, September 15, 2008

Ballybrista Bread

As we're on a baking run, here's a truly traditional Irish brown soda bread that is amazing and yet totally simple to make and bake. You can make it into a cake of soda bread or scones, as you like. A light touch is vital when kneading, and care is required when adding the baking soda as too much will give the bread a yellowy green tinge, but apart from that, it’s all plain sailing - as easy as can be and the results are utterly delicious eaten with bread and jam, smoked salmon, ham mushroom pate or just about anything else you could care to do with it.

When the weather cools down a little, try it with Dublin Coddle or even Irish Stew

Why Ballybrista Bread? Well, Ballybrista is Sarah's homeplace, and this is her mum's recipe. Simple really!

  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 250g plain white flour
  • ½ cup porridge oats
  • ½ cup bran
  • 1 rounded teaspoon salt
  • 1 rounded teaspoon baking soda
  • 500ml laban or buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly, and make a well in the centre. Add half the laban or buttermilk, and hand mix, adding mroe until a dough has formed, which should stick to itself but not be appreciably wet. This should be kneaded gently, and then turned out on to a floured surface and gently kneaded to form a squared piece some 2.5 cm deep. This should then be cut into scones using a knife dipped in cold water. Place the scones on a flat, well floured, baking tray and cook for 20 minutes in the centre of the oven.

This recipe will also make a single loaf: flatten the dough to a gently domed circle that's a touch higher in the middle - a kind of discus shape - you're looking at something about 5cm thick. Dust it with oats and cut a cross on the surface, then place on a floured baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200C/400F/Gas 6 for a further 20-25 minutes.

Scones or loaf alike, the bread is cooked when it sounds hollow if you tap its base. Turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool: you can wrap it in a tea towel if you would rather a softer crust.

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