(a repeat post from march 9 2012)

That’s it. I’m leaving home.  I always wondered where I’d get my cooking credentials (other than living in my kitchen) and now I know.  I’m going to the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland.  I’ll see you later.  It’s time I earned my toque… or at least an apron that says, ” Ballymaloe.”

Ireland:  Cliffs of Moher                                                                                                                         (copyright Alyce Morgan, 2003)

  Ok, I’m not.  But I’d like to.   Meantime,  just in time for St. Patty’s Day, I’m baking some bread from the Cookery School’s founder and Ireland’s best chef-teacher, Darina Allen, number 38 in Gourmet Live’s list of 50 Women Game-Changers in Food:

(Courtesy Koster Photography
When Americans make or think about Irish Soda Bread, which they only do in March of every year, they think about the American take on the bread (think chop suey), which I adore and make as often as anyone:


Here’s my own American version.  Please have a little bread with your butter

But if you go to Ireland and stop in a hotel or restaurant for breakfast (or other meal), you find that the soda bread is whole wheat.  Dense, thick, sturdy, filling.  Perfect smothered with lots of beautiful Irish butter and jam or, even better, dipped in a deep, dark mug of tea.  And, should you not think about it, this bread is a chunky, dunky sideshow for stew or soup, as well as tasty sandwich bread.   Get ready to dirty your hands and bake up!

darina allen’s brown soda bread

400g (14oz) wholemeal flour (about 3 cups)
75g (3oz) plain white flour, (Darina specifies unbleached if you can get it) (about 3/4 cup)
1 tsp salt,  (Darina specifies dairy salt, which is finer, but I used regular old table salt.)
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda, sieved  (baking soda)
1 egg
1 tbsp sunflower oil  (I used canola oil)
1 teaspoon honey ( or treacle or soft brown sugar)
425ml (¾ pint) buttermilk  (or add 2 tbsp of lemon juice to 600 ml (1 pint) milk

Method

Grease a loaf tin (I used 9x5x3) with vegetable oil. Preheat the oven to 200°c (gas mark 6).  (about 400 degrees Fahrenheit)
Put the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and mix well.  Make a well in the centre ready for the wet ingredients.
Whisk the egg and add it to the oil, honey (or treacle or sugar), and the buttermilk (or lemon juice/milk mixture).
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and using your clean hands mix well.  The dough should be very sticky, Darina describes it as ‘soft and slightly sloppy’, if it’s not add more buttermilk. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour.
To test take it out of its tin and tap the bottom, if it’s cooked it will sound hollow.
Allow to cool before eating if you can manage it.

Recipe courtesy The Ordinary Cook   
My cook’s notes are in red


Use the other side of your measuring cups for this one; you need 425 ml of buttermilk.


I weighed both flours for accuracy

Full “well”


Smooth it out as best you can in a greased pan.


 Very healthy wholewheat bread, but quite yummy with a little butter and jam

GOES WELL WITH POTATO SOUP!

the skinny on darina
I don’t know how she does it….

Owner of Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Co Cork, Ireland, teacher, food writer, newspaper columnist, cookbook author and television presenter. School is situated on an organically run farm.
Graduate in Hotel Management, Dublin Institute of Technology.
Member of Taste Council of Irish Food Board, Chair of Artisan Food Forum of Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Food Safety Consultative Council of Ireland, Trustee of Irish Organic Centre, Patron of Irish Seedsavers.
Cooking Teacher of the Year Award from IACP 2005, Recipient of Honorary Degree from University of Ulster 2003, Winner of Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year 2001, Waterford Wedgwood Hospitality Award 2000, Langhe Ceretto Prize 1996, Laois Person of the Year 1993…and more.
 courtesy Ballymaloe Cookery School;  County Cork, Ireland.

Watch a little video about Ballymaloe here.

Bake your own bread-no excuses now,
Alyce