Traditional Irish Bread
Ireland – that part of the world which leaves everyone mesmerized with its unending charm and bewitching beauty. There are so many times when I would have blown away a fallen eyelash on my palm so that I could land in Ireland the next minute. I remember one of my friends going for her long honeymoon to Ireland and I so wanted to tag along, well, only if I could 🙂
Ireland is an island about 300 miles long and 170 miles wide and it has about 32 counties. It has hilly geography with numerous plains and rivers cutting through the island. It’s a place which is everyone’s dream come true and that’s what makes Ireland a dream zone for everyone for annual family vacations, long winter trips with friends, or just casual hop-overs for food festivals.
Making use of the fresh seafood available on Ireland’s shores, the beef and lamb reared in its green pastures and, of course, the range of produce grown in the country, there are countless traditional Irish classic dishes which are relished in homes across all corners of Ireland and which the Irish people are proud of. Apart from this, of course, a full Irish breakfast is something you cannot miss while on their shores. An Irish breakfast generally consists of some combination of bacon, sausages, eggs, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns, white and black pudding (pork meat with oatmeal and blood sausage respectively) and baked beans. For those of you, who don’t know – tea and toast are essential sides and are a perfect hangover cure after a night of drinking Guinness.
Apart from this, of course, you cannot forget the Irish stew which has been passed down from grandmothers and dates back many centuries. As these dishes occupy prominence in almost every household of Ireland, what also has a permanent place in the warm kitchens and stone -helmed shelves is the traditional Irish bread. This bread is almost baked every day is most houses for those long cups of teas and bonded family conversations. It won’t be a surprise if you find every pink-faced child of Ireland knowing this recipe at their fingertips, it’s like they have almost drunk it over every single day of their life. The best thing about this bread is that it is a form of quick bread, meaning it is leavened with baking soda instead of yeast. The other ingredients are as simple as white flour, whole wheat flour, buttermilk, butter, and salt.
The other best part about this bread is that you don’t even need to knead it like all other loaves of bread and there is no need for proofing (resting the dough to make it rise). It’s like in 10 minutes you prepare the dough and then it goes straight into the oven to be baked to perfection. And believe me, after the bread goes for baking, the wait becomes a really hard task.
I can only imagine the aroma of freshly baked bread filling up the old countryside comely homes of the English and a gathering of those soft-spoken family members in the backyard gardens just living up their life and enjoying their favorite bread over coffee and tea. It is good to know that the Irish bread is available in both white and brown varieties. It also makes a filling snack when slathered with creamy Irish butter and accompanied by a cup of tea amidst some warm hugs from the locals, of course.
This Irish bread is also more significant to St. Patricks Day. That is the reason why the cross is made over the bun with the knife just before baking. In fact, the Irish people also poke the bread slightly with the tip of the knife on four corners. They believe it’s to let the fairies out and not to take their curse. It’s optional; if you want to do this while baking the bread.
You also have some liberties here while experimenting – you can add one egg here as well if you wish. If you are adding that, make sure that you mix it with the buttermilk and then add it to the dry ingredients. Of course, all the dry ingredients have to be mixed together first followed by the wet ingredients.
For a nice twist, I added some nice juicy raisins to the recipe. You can also add nuts and dry fruits if you wish to. But personally, I think raisins suit the recipe best. The sourness of buttermilk goes well with the sweetness of raisins and helps balance the equation here giving a fresh feel to the recipe as you dig into those juicy molasses in every bite.
One good way of enjoying this bread is with your favorite vanilla custard or a chocolate one too (you know, I am a little biased towards chocolates). The other is of course with your mixed fruit jam or any other jam of your choice. Who said, you only need bread toasts or those age-old rusks to be enjoyed with jam every evening? Give this recipe a try and I assure you would want to bake this bread every week and give your life and your taste buds a much-needed break from the usual making headway to something quick and delectable. I must tell you that – a round baked bread makes for an adorable piece of yumminess. Head off to your kitchen and give me a buzz when you are baking this!
Happy baking my people!
This bread is comfort food that is almost effortless to make. Moreover, no yeast, no resting of dough required. You can totally make this without butter as well and so it’s just the healthiest bread you will bake for yourself and family any time of the year.
250 gms strong white flour
250 gms wholegrain wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
500 ml. buttermilk
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp butter (optional)
Milk – for brushing the bread lightly before baking
Some oats for sprinkling over the bread.
- Sieve the white flour in a bowl. Now add the whole wheat flour to it as well. Add salt and baking soda as well. Combine everything well.
- Now add the buttermilk to it and lightly mix over to form a loose dough.
- Dust the work surface with a little flour. Add the raisins and knead the dough gently until smooth. Make sure to roll it over not more than 5-6 times. You just need the dough to loosely come together into a ball.
- Now flatten the dough to roughly 2 inches thick. Using a sharp knife (grease it slightly with butter) lightly slash the surface of the dough in the shape of a cross. Brush the top of the dough with milk and sprinkle the oats evenly.
- Preheat the oven at 200 C for about 10 minutes. Place the dough on a greased, baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until well risen and a light brown color.
- Leave to cool. Serve and enjoy!