getting lucky with the irish

 

Irish soda bread  As a girl with a surname like Clancy, whose paternal ancestors managed to survive the treacherous voyage from The Emerald Isle to The Sunburnt Country way back in the 1850s, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for St Patrick’s Day. But as a girl who has been lucky enough to recently start kissing a cute Irish man, the feast day of Ireland’s favourite saint has taken on a bit more significance for me this year. You could say that over the last little while I’ve learnt a thing or two about the Irish apart from their exceptional kissing abilities. For starters, apparently St Patrick was actually Welsh but was taken to Ireland and sold as a slave when he was 16 before escaping and returning to the land of the leprechaun to preach the Christian faith using the shamrock as an analogy for the Holy Trinity. Of course everyone knows that it’s customary to wear green on St Paddy’s Day and drink generous serves of Guinness or green coloured beer but did you know that you’re also meant to wear green underwear? And if you don’t happen to be in possession of any then it’s customary to not wear any underwear at all? Yes I’m thinking that the intentions of my source on this fascinating tid-bit may be questionable….would be happy for some confirmation, anyone?And then there’s the Irish flag, the tricolour (green white and gold) which represents the unity of Ireland. The green is emblematic of the old (Catholic) Irish, while the gold represents the newer (Protestant) Irish with the white linking the two as a symbol of peace.

But I’ve also learned to make soda bread. And let me say if you’ve never made bread before this is a great place to start. No tricky yeast to play with just a few dry ingredients and some buttermilk and honey. Apparently it’s so easy that many of the good Irish lads in the Bondi Junction area are whipping up loaves on a regular basis. Something I’m hoping I get to experience in person one day….. all good things.

irish soda bread
makes 1 medium loaf

Loosely based on Richard Corrigan’s recipe published in How to Cook the Perfect… by Marcus Wareing.

To be honest I was a little worried that the honey would make for way too sweet a loaf but rest assured this loaf isn’t sweet at all. While it’s traditionally eaten with rich salted Irish butter, it makes a lovely picnic bread to serve with some oven roasted tomatoes, pesto and spicy sopressa salami. Or for something even more radical try it with your best extra virgin olive oil and dukkah. The only thing is that is doesn’t keep very well so if you’re not planning to eat it on the same day, freeze for later consumption.

The bread in the photo was my first attempt. And while it tasted delicious, it did have a bit of a knobbly gnarled appearance. Next time I think I’ll spend a little more time patting my loaf into a smoother round before popping it in the oven.

100g self raising flour
200g wholemeal flour
1T bicarb soda
1t sea salt flakes (Maldon is fine apparently even though it is English)
225mL buttermilk
4T honey

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and dust generously with extra wholemeal flour. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Whisk together buttermilk and honey. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour buttermilk mix into the hole.

Using a fork gently stir to combine and form a soft dough being careful not to mix too energetically as you don’t want to over work the dough and end up with a tough loaf. Shape into a round and place onto the baking tray. With a sharp knife gently score a cross into the top and dust with flour.

Bake for 30mins or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow to cool then serve with a generous spread of your favourite butter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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