Know your Bread
Ireland has a delicious bread heritage which we should be proud of. Here is just a taster of some of the range of loaves baked daily by expert bakers across the country.
This yeasted bread consists of a sweet dough with added sultanas and raisins. The name is believed to originate from the Irish words ‘bairin’ or ‘bairgain’ – a loaf or bread – and ‘breac’ – speckled but also from the original use of Bram (the yeast drawn off fermenting malt) as a raising agent. Barm Brack is usually sold in flattened rounds and enjoyed served toasted with butter. The dough is sweeter than sandwich bread, but not as rich as cake. The sultanas and raisins enhance the texture and taste of the bread. Barmbrack bread is a traditional Irish Halloween treat, where traditionally various objects, including a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin and a ring, are placed into the bread and then used as a fortune-telling game.
Potato Bread or Farl is an Irish staple which goes well with both sweet and savoury dishes and is often served at breakfast. Potato replaces a portion of the regular wheat flour but the ratio of potato to flour varies from recipe to recipe. A variation, the Prarie Oaten, uses fine oatmeal instead of wheat to add texture.
Potato Farls can be cooked in a variety of ways, including baking it on a hot griddle or pan, or in an oven. The Potato Farl is traditionally cut into a triangular shape before serving – hence the name as the word farl comes from the Gaelic ’fardel’ meaning four parts. Potato Farls are often eaten on St Patrick’s Day.
Boxty bread is a traditional Irish potato pancake. The bread is most commonly eaten in the north midlands of Ireland, where it is known as poundy. Boxty is so much part of the local culture in Ireland that is has inspired folk rhymes.
One of the most popular versions of the bread consists of finely grated, raw potato and mashed potato with flour, buttermilk, egg and baking soda. The grated potato is strained to remove most of the starch and then fried on a griddle pan for a few minutes. The traditional methods of cooking the pancakes include boiling and baking.
Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread has been a particular speciality of Ireland since the late 19th century. Soda Bread incorporates baking soda as a leavening agent instead of yeast, and is specifically made from soft wheat flour and is also traditionally made with buttermilk.
The traditional ingredients in soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt and buttermilk but every baker has their own ‘special’ soda bread recipe – so why not send us your recipe or a photo?
The Turnover Grinder is particularly associated with Dublin and differentiated from batch bread by its boot-liked shape. Formerly known as “The Stuck Together”, the bread is baked for longer to seal in the flavour and is preservative free. The Dublin clientele are so fond of the turnover there is a testament to its popularity in Thomas Street, Dublin where it was first made, originally in troughs, with customers specifying the fermentation time. The folding back (or turning over) of the Dublin turnover gives it both its name and its unique dense texture.
Originating from Waterford in Ireland in the 17th century, and awarded Protected Geographical Indication in 2013, the Blaa Bun is a soft white bread roll that has been covered with white flour. It is said to have been introduced to Waterford towards the end of the 17th Century by the Huguenots. During fermentation the dough pieces expand and batch together creating a square dough. Eaten mainly at breakfast with butter, they are also eaten for lunch with a range of fillings.
A Batch Loaf is a traditional Irish tall loaf with a dark, well-fired crust on the top and the bottom of the bread. There is no crust on the sides due to the unbaked loaves being stuck together in batches. The batches are baked together and then torn into individual loaves once baked.
Irish Wheaten Bread
Wheaten bread, also known as Brown Soda Bread or Buttermilk Brown is traditionally baked on a hot cast-iron griddle over an open peat fire. The griddled soda bread is then cooked into a round. The bread follows the same recipe as soda bread but with wholegrain flour and is often served with smoked salmon.
Fruit Soda Bread
Raisins are frequently added to white soda bread along with an egg to make a rich bread known often referred to as Spotted Dog.