20 years ago last March, Vincent and I were working in the garden. The garden being. practically as far west as you can go in Europe. A car pulled up, with a couple from America. They brought us the great news, that there had been an article in The Washington Post about my Brown bread for Patrick’s day.
They certainly made our day and were we impressed and delighted . They were staying in Killarney and driving The Dingle Peninsula and decided to seek me out. Without them, I don’t know if I would ever have found out. This was pre internet, and very much pre Facebook and Twitter and blogging.
20 years later their son Paul arrived in to me with his wife and beautiful baby daughter to taste the bread! It really set me to think about all the years and all the people, since we first opened the door to visitors here in 1980. Isn’t that a bit of a wow – these people search me out in 1992 to tell me about the article and their son and his family arrive 20 years later to taste and enjoy the brown bread.
Some things go on and on and are part of the rhythm of life. Here on The Dingle Peninsula, bread making is one of them. It is so easy to make a loaf of bread and probably so much easier to get the ingredients now no matter where you are. A few ingredients into a bowl, mix with butter milk, shape into a cake, put your cross on and into the oven. Less than an hour and you will be eating your own bread, with your chosen ingredients and made with your own hand. This is what really matters in life.
A couple of weeks back, I had a phone call from a 75 year old woman, who had read my story and who like me had married young. What she really wanted to talk about was bread recipes and methods. We had a great chat and shared our recipes and tips.
This set me to thinking, the making of bread by your own hand is probably one of the greatest pleasures in life and discussing bread recipes’ and methods has probably far more relevance in our lives than ‘The Euro Crisis’. – For me anyway!
Brown Soda Bread
850gm White Flour
450gms of Brown Wholemeal stone ground flour
70gm Yellow Meal
2 level teaspoons raw cane sugar
2 level teaspoons salt
2 level teaspoons bread soda sieved
700ml to 850ml Buttermilk to mix
Pre heat oven to 230c
Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl, lifting up with your fingers, to let the air through
Make a well in the centre
Pour about 700ml of the milk in.
Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary.
The dough should be softish but not too wet and sticky.
Turn out onto a floured top and knead LIGHTLY for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up.
Pat the dough into a round, about 4cms deep
Cut a deep cross in the bread going right out over the edges (To let the fairies out!)
Put on a floured tray
Bake at 230c for 15mins, then turn oven to 200c for a further 30 mins or until cooked.
If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread, if it is cooked it will sound hollow.