Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Of Snakes and Bran

St Patrick’s Day, a day for celebrating a snake-free Ireland, bellowing out wistful ballads of homesickness and hunger (even if you happen to be sitting within ten kilometres of said home with a plate of Taco Fries in front of you) and wearing ironic jaunty caps. I adore St Patrick’s Day. Like most Irish families abroad, growing up St Patrick’s Day was the seminal holiday in our home. We were kept off school and the doldrums of grade three maths was replaced with feis, a parade in Fremantle and GAA games, not to mention being allowed to break Lent. Such excitement.

Now that I live in Dublin, with its ever cynical undertone, St Patrick’s Day celebrations have taken on a less rumbustious tone, with the day involving a meal tipsily cooked with friends accompanied by plenty of Irish craft beer. I am so fortunate to have access in Ireland to meat bought from the man who reared the beast, eggs fresh from the farm, commercially available dairy of astounding quality and beers brewed with passion by fledgling craft breweries. I try to make a point of using the best of these in celebration of not only the feast day, but also what signifies to me the real start of Spring. 

As ever, my go-to starter is my fabulous mother-in-law’s brown bread with charcuterie. Served with relish, Irish farmhouse cheeses and gubeen ham this bread is the most sublime of starters. Earthy, rich with a touch of sweetness, it coverts even this non-bread eater. Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

12 ounces/340 grams plain flour
4 ounces/110 grams of bran
2 1 ounce/ 30 grams brown sugar
1 heaped teaspoon bicarb of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
750mL buttermilk
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Grease a kilo loaf tin and preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
Mix all dry ingredients together and make a well in the middle.
Add wet ingredients and mix to combine.
Pour into loaf tin and bake for approx 45 minutes.

Edited to add that two ounces is too much sugar, I suggest using one ounce. The other critical thing I forgot to mention is that when it is baked, leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes or so and then wrap tightly in a clean teatowel until ready to use.


Catherine said...

The Hellfire piggies look so happy! I can't wait to have a proper kitchen and a decent-sized freezer so's I can get some decent pigmeat in. I just had to turn down my parents' offer of half a hand-reared pig and it darn nearly killed me.

Happy Paddy's day!

'NEEN at 9 BEAN ROW said...

Happy St Patrick's Day to you too Catherine. You know with the Hellfire Pigs you can get updates of how 'your' pig is doing, including photos. I am not sure I could cope with the cuteness.

Catherine said...

Ah, but it's great to 'know' one's food, all the same. :)

Oh, and my MIL is also a great one for the buttermilk soda bread. My fella makes it every week - so tasty!

Brownieville Girl said...

Really unusual to see a brown soda bread without wholemeal flour. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.
Your spread looks fantastic.

'NEEN at 9 BEAN ROW said...

Brownieville Girl, it makes it lovely and spongey: almost cake like. I tried the recipe the other day using half beer half buttermilk and it worked really well. I would be interested to see what wholemeal flour would do.

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