Last Tuesday, the 17th March, was St Patrick’s day. Blink and you probably missed it. I celebrated with family before we all got separated and stuck in our own homes in different towns and villages. I can’t tell you how glad I feel to have had the opportunity to spend time together because who knows when we will have another chance. It could be weeks but it’s more likely to be months according to the daily reports from the BBC.
I still feel slightly that I am living in a movie. It’s a surreal feeling and one that I am slowly coming to terms with as more news comes in and my world gets turned upside down. My ballet lessons and ballet fitness classes have come to a stop as social distancing comes into effect. This, in turn, means that at present I am temporarily unemployed. Something that I never thought I would say but here I am and I just have to deal with it the best I can.
Having more time on my hands means that I am looking for things to entertain me that don’t require leaving the house. I have been trying to do a little ballet and exercise in my lounge which has been lovely but not ideal. The wooden floor is quite slippery in ballet shoes so I might have to adapt a little and dance in bare feet. One thing that has worked has been whipping up a storm in the kitchen. It’s a pretty safe hobby to pursue as it requires little interaction. Just me, the ingredients and my aged oven.
Day one of unemployment (or shall I say “sabbatical” as it sounds nicer?) led me to the kitchen in search of ingredients to make an Irish Soda Bread. I knew I had everything in my store cupboard as I had made it last Sunday before for our St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Irish Soda Bread has to be one of the easiest breads to make by the way. You throw all the weighed ingredients together, mix, form into a round loaf shape and bake. It really is that simple.
Firstly, let me share a few photos from my St Patrick’s Day celebrations with you as it was really rather nice. We had smoked fish with the aforementioned Irish soda bread to start followed by a vegetarian coddle. Coddle is an Irish dish that uses up leftovers essentially and some sausages. Mine was made with potato, onion, HECK vegetarian sausages, beer, stock and parsley. It forms a sort of casserole which was actually comforting and above all delicious. Out came the Irish soda bread again to mop up the juice and the anti-bac gel, of course, to keep us all safe whilst nibbling!! Strange times indeed!
I made a chocolate and Guinness cake for pudding and served it with a tot of Irish whisky. The Guinness creates a deliciously moist cake which superseded my expectations in taste and texture. For the recipe click here.
Now, on to the simple Irish soda bread recipe. You really should give it a try. Particularly whilst we are having to distance ourselves from others and have more time on our hands to try new things. I don’t think you will be disappointed with the results. The bread is crusty on the outside and the buttermilk creates a moist crumb reminiscent of a scone.
- 170g Plain flour
- 170g Wholemeal flour
- 300ml buttermilk (some brands come as 284ml - this also works)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/400F.
- Tip both flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and mix with a fork.
- Add the buttermilk and continue to mix until a dough has formed. If the dough seems too try add a little milk or too sticky a little flour. Sometimes the absorbency of them flour varies from loaf to loaf.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knees very lightly to bring it all together.
- Form into a round and place on a floured baking sheet. Cut a cross in the top with a knife.
- Bake in you preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow to cool on a wire wrack. Slice and enjoy simply with butter or use to soak up the juices from your coddle.
I hope you find the time to make this whilst we are safely tucked away at home in our battle against Covid-19. The sense of achievement making your own bread from scratch is quite something and sharing with your loved ones is something else! Take care of yourselves and please make sure you wash your hands often and thoroughly. The simple things will get us through this.