No, I'm not homesick, but often I long for a taste of home. To catch up with everyone and have a cup of tea with a slice of fruit cake or even brown bread, I think that would be the most expensive slice of brown bread ever.
So what is brown bread? In Ireland, most families grow up having brown bread. It tends to have a hard crust on the outside and a dense, but soft wholemeal centre. Traditionally most Irish mothers baked it like a round cake with a cross on top. As a child, I use to love coming home from school to the smell of bread baking. Mum use to bake about ten at a time, as she had a growing family of eight kids (yes, I know a true Irish family). The first tin to come out of the oven would never make it to the table because we would eat it straight away while still warm with butter and most likely homemade jam or honey. The rest would be frozen. I know Mum would hope they would last the week, but I don't think that ever happened.
We rarely had a shop bought loaf as it would have been a huge expense, but also my Mum never trusted all the preservatives in the packaged breads. As kids we would long for the change and the softness of a white loaf, but now as an adult I long to have that warm brown bread with melted butter to eat again.
Living in Australia it is hard to come by this kind of bread and although I can make it, finding the right wholemeal is difficult. Many of the wholemeal flours in Australia are processed a lot finer than the type used in Ireland, which tends to be a lot courser. After many years of looking out for such a wholemeal, I have found some health shops are a great place to find this flour. Otherwise I order the well known Irish brand online; Odlums wholemeal flour at Taste Ireland.
If you would like to give it a go, it is a very simple.
450g/1lb Plain Flour
250g/9oz Course Wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch of salt Salt
1 Egg (beaten)
Porridge Oats (optional)
Preheat the oven to 210°C/425°F. Lightly grease a 19cm/8” deep cake tin or two 900g/2lb loaf tins.
Sieve the plain flour, salt, and baking soda into a bowl.
Add the wholemeal and mix well.
Rub in the butter.
Mix the egg and buttermilk together. Then add the liquid to the dry ingredients slowly, until enough is added to form a .soft dough. Do not overmix.
Turn onto a floured board and knead. Place into the prepared tin or tins. If in a round tin cut a cross on top.
Sprinkle some Porridge on top (optional).
Bake for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 190°C/375°F for a further 30 minutes approx.
When cooked it should have a hollow sound when tapped underneath.
Wrap in a clean tea towel to cool.
If you want to make it darker replace the plain flour with the wholemeal flour. Even add some wheatgerm. Have you a bread you like to make? Let us know - we would love to hear.
Many restaurants in Ireland serve it with soup or smoked salmon, but I am happy to have it with some jam. Enjoy!
And have an earthly passionate weekend,
Attracta & the earthly passion team.