Posts Tagged 'bread'

How to make Buttermilk


If you want to make Soda Bread or Griddle Bread and find yourself short on buttermilk, use this handy recipe. Simply mix 1 tbsp of lemon juice into 290ml of full-fat milk. Mix and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Hey presto, you’ve just made your own buttermilk.


Brown Soda Bread

Brown Bread 1

Right, time to take a break from the Indian recipes – this blog is turning more “peshwari naan” than “toasted special”…

Subscribers will know that I’m a rather reluctant baker. I can’t stand shaping sticky dough or pastry so I tend to gravitate towards simple breads and cakes that I can mix and throw into a tin before baking. I like this recipe because there’s no shaping necessary – just mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, combine and pour into a greased loaf tin.

I’ve been making my own brown soda bread for years and have tried countless recipes. This originally started off as a Darina Allen recipe (taken from a GoodFood magazine) but I’ve taken on board Richard Corrigan’s suggestion of adding porridge oats and treacle to give a richer flavour and colour. (Do try Corrigan’s soda bread recipe also, it’s very rich and delicious. Probably more suited to dinner than breakfast as it’s so heavy on the salt and sugar. Great with a creamy potato and leek soup.)

You could also add wheatgerm, extra bran or sunflower seeds to this for a change.


  • 225g coarse wholemeal flour
  • 225g plain white flour
  • 100g porridge oats
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • 450ml buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil (or 25g butter)
  • 1 tbsp treacle


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
  2. Sift the white flour into a large mixing bowl along with the salt and bicarbonate of soda. Add the wholemeal flour and use your hands to give the flour a good mixing.
  3. Add the egg, sunflower oil (or butter) and treacle to the buttermilk in a measuring jug. Mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix gently and quickly. The dough will be quite wet.
  5. Transfer to a greased 2lb loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Wrap in a tea-towel (prevents the loaf from drying out) and leave to cool a little before cutting. Coat with butter and serve with a few rashers. 😉

For more (yeast-free) Irish bread recipes, check out my Soda Bread and Griddle Bread posts.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

This bread is made in homes all over Ireland. It uses bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent and the buttermilk gives it a subtle tang.


  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 300-350ml buttermilk


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 230°C.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl. Mix well with a fork to ensure the salt and bread soda are well incorporated into the flour.
  3. Add 300ml of buttermilk and mix through the flour. Add another 50ml if necessary. You want a soft dough, but nothing too wet and sticky.
  4. With floured hands, turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead the dough into a round loaf but don’t overwork it.
  5. Place the dough on a buttered and floured baking sheet. Cut a cross in the top of the dough. According to legend, this allows the fairies to escape.  (No, I don’t believe it either…)
  6. Place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 200°C and cook for a further 25 minutes.
  7. Remove the bread from the oven and wrap in a tea towel and leave to cool slightly on a wire rack before cutting. Slice and serve coated with salty butter.

If you want to try another type of traditional Irish bread, try my Griddle Bread recipe. It’s much quicker to make and very moreish.

Tomato & Fennel Seed Bread

Tomato & Fennel Seed Bread

Tomato bread makes a great ham sandwich. Slice ham thickly and spread the bread with a little mustard mayonnaise, just as they do in Fortnum & Mason. It’s also great for dunking in some good extra-virgin olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.


  • 340g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp (heaped)  sugar
  • 5g dried yeast (I use McDougall’s)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200 ml tepid water
  • 1 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé (tomato paste)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 6-8 sun-dried tomatoes (in oil),  drained & chopped


  1. Mix the dry ingredients. Sieve together the flour, salt, sugar and dried yeast into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add your wet ingredients. Rub the olive oil into the flour mixture, then add the tepid water, fennel seeds, tomato pureé and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Mix to a loose dough (add a little extra flour if necessary) and turn out onto a clean work surface, lightly dusted with flour. Cover the dough with the bowl and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until the dough is smooth. You may need to add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
  5. Clean your mixing bowl with hot water, then lightly brush the bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with cling film. Place the bowl in your airing cupboard or beside a radiator. Prove the dough for about 1½ to 2 hours. The dough should have at least doubled in size.
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 220°C. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and “knock back”. This means gently kneading the dough for a minute to knock some of the air out of it. Form the dough into a round loaf and place on an oiled and floured baking sheet. Allow the dough to prove in a warm place once again, it should rise by 1½-2 times.
  7. Glaze with beaten egg or dust lightly with flour. Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Irish Griddle Bread Recipe

Bread making doesn’t get any simpler than this. (Oh dear, I’m starting to sound like those clowns on Masterchef). Griddle bread, as it’s known in my house, is a simple soda bread dough, but instead of being cooked in the oven, you cook it slowly on a non-stick frying pan or a cast-iron “griddle”. This is quite a traditional bread and is a great standby when you haven’t a scrap of granary left in the house. One warning though, once you cut this loaf you’ll keep going back to it until you’ve none left. It’s addictive!

I like my griddle bread “well done”. Cook gently until the surface of the bread is starting to blacken in places. As the bread cools, it gives off the most amazing toasty aromas. There’s something about it that reminds me of cream crackers. Surely not a bad thing?

For a traditional Irish bread that’s baked in the oven, try my Irish Soda Bread recipe.



  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • buttermilk, enough to make a very soft dough (about 250ml-300ml, as a guide)


Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, then add the buttermilk and mix gently until you have a soft, wet dough, but be careful it is not too “sloppy”. Heat a dry frying pan, then turn down the heat low and dust the pan with plain flour. Wet your hands then add the doughto the pan. Gently smooth out the dough to cover the pan then cook slowly on both sides until brown patches start to develop. This should take at least 8 minutes on each side. Cool on a wire rack.

Coat with plenty of salty butter and enjoy, this is great with your Saturday morning fry-up.


“Pizza Hut” Garlic Bread


Bit tacky for a food blog? Hmm, perhaps. Give me home-made pizza any day. But I must admit, I’ve been known to visit Pizza Hut. I also happen to be rather partial to their garlic bread. I discovered that the elusive secret to their recipe is plenty of seasoning a good pinch of dried oregano. And you know what? It tastes almost identical to me. Even if you’re not a Pizza Hut fan, give it a try, it’s the best garlic bread you will ever taste! I never make it any other way.


  • 1 baguette (or 4 small rolls)
  • 150g butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • dried oregano
  • salt & pepper


  1. Make sure your butter is really soft. To achieve this, just leave your butter out of the refrigerator at night.
  2. Make a paste from the clove of garlic and some rock salt, then add to the butter. Use a mortar and pestle for this, or grind on a chopping board with a knife. It’s very important not to have huge lumps of garlic in your butter.
  3. Season with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a shake of dried oregano. Mix well.
  4. Slice your baguette and spread each slice liberally with the garlic butter. Toast under a hot grill until golden. It will smell and taste amazing.




Crostini (“little crusts”) are really handy when you want something small to serve with drinks and they also make a great appetiser. Slice some baguette or foccaccia thinly and grill both sides on a cast-iron grill pan. (Toasting under a conventional grill gives great results but I like the charred edges you only get with the grill pan.) When slightly charred on both sides, rub the toasts with a peeled clove of raw garlic then brush lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Leave to cool fully before serving or placing any toppings on the crostini.

I served the above crostini with some black olive paste and sun-dried tomatoes. Check out the following crostini topping suggestions, taken from Jamie Oliver’s “Italy“.