So the Irish are famous for their gorgeous brown bread. Its usually smaller than the standard loaves of sandwich bread we get at home and tastes a whole lot nicer. Its the standard fare in most homes (most homes I've been in anyway) and you will get it at every single B&B or hotel you stay in around the country, a lot of them home-made and protective of their recipes.
I've recently acquired my number 3 'Object of Lust' (I'll discuss the top 10 in a later post. And don't worry, there won't be any naked people :) : this cookbook. It has a load of really fantastic recipes and I've been sneaking peeks at it in my Irish Mammy and Daddy's house for ages before I finally gave in and bought my own. It is an absolutely gorgeous book and I'm smitten. When I find a good cookbook I read through it like a novel, and like any novel I love, it gets more than one read. I've easily gone through the book 20 times and I know I'll keep going back to it. It has beautiful pictures, great step-by-step instructions and (most importantly) everything I've made so far is absolutely fantastic and lip-smackingly good. I'll post a few recipes here as I try them out, I'll tell you about the first recipes I made: bread. There's 8 different types of bread in the book and there are suggestions for variations that can be made. The first one I made was the multi seed bread.
It was SO good! I put pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds and it is so nice with a bowl of soup.
It came out so nicely, I decided to try the white yeast bread and plain brown bread to take to a family gathering over the weekend. I got a little carried away ...
I don't ever buy white bread and I definitely won't in future - I'll make this for a treat when guests are around. It took a bit of time but was so so delish! Everyone raved about the white bread and it ... just ... disappeared. The brown bread was good too but didn't really compete well with the homemade loaf one of the aunties brought. Hers was fantastic!
But at least I was successful with the white bread :)
White Yeast Bread (from The Avoca Cafe Cookbook)
20 g fresh yeast (I used 10g dried yeast)
15g granulated sugar
700g strong white flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Dissolve the yeast in 150ml of lukewarm water. In a separate bowl add the butter and sugar to 150ml very hot water and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, then add 150 ml of cold water. The solution should be lukewarm, so combine with yeast mixture.
In a large bowl sift the flour and salt together, make a well in the center and add most of the lukewarm liquid. Mix to a loose dough, adding the remaining liquid. Add more flour or water as necessary. Turn the dough out onto a floured board, cover and leave to relax for 5-10 minutes. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and springy (if using a food mixer with dough hook, 5 minutes should be enough). Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a clean tea towel until doubled in size.
Knock back the risen dough and knead 2-3 minutes, until all the air has been forced out again. Leave to relax for 10 minutes then shape into loaves, plaits or rolls (or cute little pull apart buns like I did :) Place loaves into 1lb tins that have been brushed with olive oil or on an oiled baking sheet and leave to rise for 20-30 min. Bake at 230C for 30-35 minutes until the loaves have risen, are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath.
Note: at the shaping stage I made kneaded in freshly minced garlic and folded in a bit of Parmesan when I shaped each half. They were SO good! I made them when guests were over and I thought I'd have one to enjoy with my soup the next day but no luck. All gonezo.