Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Irish Soda Bread - Attempt No. 3

Visiting relatives in N. Ireland every year meant regular trips to the local bakeries. A NI bakery is very different to an English one in many ways. For a start, people still go to the bakery (and the butcher and the greengrocer) as it is only in the last 10 years that the big supermarkets have really established themselves there. When you get there you have the most amazing choice of breads and cakes. Wheaten bread, soda bread, wheaten soda, treacle soda, cherry scones, fruit scones, Paris buns, barnbrack… and the conversation from behind the counter is very friendly. You are also likely to find that some breads are only baked on certain days (which meant tracking down Paris buns when I was last there very tricky)

Every time I went to visit I would always leave a space in my suitcase to bring home a selection of baked goods to stash in the freezer, even thought they taste best fresh, the day you buy them. I have fond memories of arriving home after a stay in NI and getting out some cherry scones that I had bought that morning and eating them with a cup of tea. I would reluctantly share them with the rest of the family

The bakeries in England jut don’t compare, so I have had a go at making some of these myself. My cherry scones are not bad and the picture is my third attempt soda bread. It is made with buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda instead of yeast and had a delicious sweet taste. It can either be cooked in an oven like normal bread or pressed flat and cooked on a griddle. It is really good toasted with a little raspberry jam, but somehow my effort just doesn’t taste as good. I am almost out of my frozen supplier from my last trip so I will have to make a trip over there soon