One thing that people don't often realize about me is that I love too cook. I don't like to cook just for myself but I love feeding other people and cooking a dinner.
So I am genuinely excited to be cooking a traditional Irish stew tonight for someone that has never eaten it before, I'll blog my recipe for that later.
But in the meantime if you are going to make Irish stew for a non Irish person then you have to do it properly and make them some of the most traditional and well loved Irish bread.
375g strong stoneground wholemeal flour
75g plain flour
1 teaspoon (level) bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon (level) of fine salt
284ml of buttermilk (hard to find in the uk but there is an alternative as below - Elmlea!)
75ml of water
Don't be a fool - preheat your oven to 200c
Put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them together to blend them (do this really well or you will have weird bread!)
Make a well in the mixture and pour half of your buttermilk into the well and the other half around the sides. Then add the water.
Using your (very clean) hands mix the buttermilk into the dry ingredients, do not knead this bread, just mix it with your hand starting at the centre and working outwards until the buttermilk is all mixed in and the bowl should be relatively clean as the dough comes together
Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and mould it into a round shape about an inch and a half thick.
This is the most important step - if you don't do this you will not be making soda bread and also the fairies will be really mad!
With a sharp knife cross your bread, this is called blessing the bread and is a traditional part of making the bread.
Then poke a dimple with your knife in each quarter, this lets the fairies out of the bread otherwise the fairies will jinx it! Fairies are a huge part of Irish folk law and are pretty pesky so don't risk it!
Then use any remaining buttermilk and rub it onto your loaf with your hands
Put it into the oven and then leave it for 40 minutes - Do not open the door! When the time is up turn your loaf out onto a wire rack to cool.
Voila! you should have a beautiful loaf of traditional Irish bread, you should be able to tap the bottom of the bread and it should sound hollow.
This loaf can be enjoyed with soups and stews or butter and jam, it makes great toast too. I hope you enjoy this recipe and I look forward to sharing my stew with you later.
Until next time
PS - No fairies were harmed in the making of this soda bread.