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Knead Your Way To Success With Traditional Irish Bread

It’s Tuesday which can mean only one thing.  It’s Bake Off time. Tonight’s episode, the third in the current series on Channel 4, is all about bread.  Yes, Bread Week has arrived.

To mark the occasion, Food NI has put together a list of traditional Irish bread recipes featuring award-winning produce for you to make and enjoy at home, so why not flour the container and knead your way to a tasty traditional loaf.

Potato Bread

Also known as fadge, slims, potato cake or potato farls, it is a form of unleavened bread in which potato replaces a large quantity of flour and forms part of the famous Ulster Fry. There is much dispute whether beans are included or not included in an Ulster Fry but one thing that is not disputed is the inclusion of Potato Bread.

Ingredients
– 500g mashed Comber Potatoes (seasoned with salt, pepper and mashed with Donnybrewer Butter)
-50g of Mortons plan flour
– ¼tsp baking powder
– Extra Donnybrewer Butter and Mortons flour

Method
1. Sift the Flour and baking powder into the bowl with the mashed potato and mix together until you have a dough.
2. Dust a surface with more flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin.
3. Cut into eight pieces and cook for three minutes each side on a hot griddle or frying pan.
4. Serve straight away with lashings of Donnybrewer Butter

Soda Bread

Another firm favourite in the famous Ulster Fry is Soda Bread although is often eaten as well with lashings of butter and homemade jam or savoury accompaniments such as salmon.
Soda is a soft, think and fluffy bread and it was first baked in the 1800s in Ireland, and local people used baking soda to cause the dough to rise.

Ingredients
– 250g of Mortons plain flour (plus more for kneading)
– ½ tsp salt
– 1tsp baking soda
– 250ml Dale Farm buttermilk

Method
1. Preheat a heavy based flat griddle or frying pan on a medium to low heat.
2. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and sift in the baking soda.
3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk.  Work quickly to mix into a dough and knead very lightly on a well-floured surface.
4. Form into a flattened circle, about 1cm thick and cut into quarters with a flavoured knife.  Sprinkle a little flour over the base of the hot pan and place each quarter into the hot pan, one at a time, until the four quarters create a complete circle.
5. Cook the farls for six to eight minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.  You may have to cut through the centre cross to turn them over.
6. Take the pan off the heat and allow the farls to cool in the pan for ten to fifteen minutes.

Wheaten

Wheaten Bread is a healthy brown bread made with wholemeal flour and is delicious toasted with melted cheese or butter and served with a bog bowl of steaming broth.

Ingredients
– 225g Mortons wholemeal flour
– 100g Mortons plain flour
– 400ml Dale Farm buttermilk
– 25g Abernethy butter
– 2tsp baking powder
– 2tsp sugar
– 1tsp salt

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C / Gas Mark 4.
2. Grease and flour a round sandwich tin or two pound loaf tin.
3. In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into small pieces and rub through.  Add enough buttermilk to form a soft but easily handled dough (it should not be runny).
4. Knead lightly and quickly into a round shape and place in a prepared tin (it is essential you use light hands).  Cut a deep cross in the bread and sprinkle with oats if desired.
5. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
6. When baked cut a big slice and slather in Abernethy butter and enjoy!

Rest assured, not all traditional bread is savoury we are known for our sweet bread as well. So if you’ve got a slightly sweet tooth why not make some glorious Barmbrack.

Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a delicious fruit bread, where the name ‘barm’ is the old word for yeast.  A Barmbrack is eaten all year round, but particularly at Halloween when it has a little gold-ring and a small silver-coin hidden inside to find. It was thought that whosoever gets the gold ring would be married within the year and person who found the coin would become rich.

Ingredients
– 500g Mortons bread flour
– 60g Abernethy butter
– 85g sugar
– 300ml Farmviews Dairies milk
– 25g yeast
– 250g sultanas
– 115g currants
– 60g mixed chopped candied peel
– ½ level tsp ground cinnamon
– ½ level tsp nutmeg
– ½ level tsp salt
– 1 egg
(Gold ring and silver coin optional)

Method
1. Sift the flour, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl then rub in the butter to form a breadcrumb mixture.
2. Add the sugar to the flour mixture and blend well. Cream the yeast with 1tsp of sugar and the warm milk. This should, over a few minutes, froth up as the yeast starts to multiply. (If the yeast is old it is no longer active and won’t froth).
3. Once frothed beat the egg into the yeast and milk mixture.
4. When ready pour the warm milk, yeast and beaten egg into the flour mix.  Beat well with a wooden spoon to form a dough. (The batter should be stiff but still elastic – add a little extra flour if needed).
5. Fold in the dried fruit and chopped peel evenly throughout.  Knead a little with floured hands on a floured surface.
6. Place the worked dough in a clean bowl and cover with a cloth  Leave in a warm place until the dough has risen to twice the size. (Depending on room warmth, it can take from 1-3 hours.)
7. Once risen knead it and then place it shaped into a large greased bread tin/deep tray. Cover the dough again and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
8. Bake in a moderate to hot oven (200C) for 50 to 60 minutes.
9. When baked, glaze the top with 1tbsp sugar, dissolved in 1tbsp of boiling water and put it back in the hot oven for about three minutes to harden the glaze.
10. Once cool, serve in slices with some Abernethy butter.