Last June while visiting Ireland we stayed at a wonderful B & B that served freshly baked homemade Irish Soda Bread each morning. We felt so at home there and enjoyed this amazing bread with delicious scrambled eggs and smoked salmon served artisically shaped into a cone and garnished with a fresh flower and chives each morning (there were many other choices, but this is the one I had each of the 3 mornings we stayed there). Also on the breakfast buffet were such things as stewed rhubarb (much to my surprise), yogurt, cereals, fresh fruit, choices of juice - you get the picture....it was an awesome breakfast table. The other thing I loved was the Bodum coffee pot at each table - what a treat!
The baker in the kitchen who was also our host, willingly shared his recipes! This is the one I like the best. Some baking hints his wife passed on to me were:
- use "coarse" flour (less refined) if you can find it (I found some at the health food store)
- handle it as little as possible but don't panic
- these breads take practice and they never look the same twice (I'm still practicing but so far they've always looked nice and were delicious).
1/2 pint buttermilk (or more depending on your flour - I think I used about 1 1/2 Cups)
4 oz. plain flour
4 oz. wholemeal flour
1 large handful of Natural Bran Flakes
1 large handful of oat flakes (porridge oats)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda (they call it Bread Soda or Bicarbonate of Soda)
Preheat oven to 475F or to 9 if using a gas oven (should you be so lucky!)
Sieve Plain flour and soda into a large bowl
Place all the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix well with hands (lifting to introduce air).
Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk (start with 1 cup and add more if needed to make a dough that's a little on the wet side) stirring it together with a fork.
Sprinke some coarse flour on a flat baking tray (I used a pie plate)
Gather the wet (sloppy) mixture as best you can and put onto the centre of the floured baking tray or floured surface.
Do not handle too much, cut a cross in the cake and scatter lightly a bit of coarse flour over it. Lift onto baking tray.
Place in middle of preheated oven.
Bake for 45 (30 if using convection) minutes, use a palate knife to release and tap on the underside - it should sound a bit hollow. Cool standing up. Serve it warm with your favourite jam or honey!
We will never forget our fabulous trip to Ireland and are especially remembering it during this week of St. Patrick's Day.
An old Irish saying.....
"So throw on some green,
cook up some corned beef and cabbage
with a side of homemade Irish Soda Bread"
Till next time.........might have to make me some corned beef and cabbage to go with this bread!