Starting a series of World Kitchen recipes, Sam Barron passes on a family treat:
The recipe was never written down. Over generations the technique was simply a handful of this and a pinch of that. Then one of Granny Barron’s daughters watched her mother as she made some bread. She carefully measured the quantities and came up with a recipe that gets close to how it tasted when her Mum made it.
It doesn’t just taste good, the family has reason to believe the bread has life-enhancing qualities: Granny Barron lived until she was almost 102 and each of her seven children are advancing towards a reasonably healthy old age.
But the measurements don’t have to be followed too closely. Part of the fun of making wheaten bread is making slight alterations and then waiting – with expectation – to taste the results.
Try it, enjoy it and hopefully live to a ripe old age.
1lb (500 g) plain flour
1lb (500 g) coarse wholemeal flour
4oz (112 g) sugar
40z (125 g) hard margarine or butter
3 to 4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1.25 pts buttermilk
NB (buttermilk can be difficult to find and expensive to buy, instead you can mix 1.25 pts milk with 3 tablespoons vinegar. Or even mix milk and yoghurt)
Sieve the dry ingredients, rub in the margarine or butter, add buttermilk or its substitute.
Mix and turn dough on to one floured tray or three greased 1lb tins.
Bake at 375°F or 190°C for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
Wrap in a clean cloth to avoid hardening as the bread cools.
If you have not experienced fried white Soda Bread as part of an Ulster Fry or have not yet accompanied a pint of Guinness with smoked salmon on Wheaten Bread, or had a cup of strong tea with warm freshly baked Wheaten bread doused in lashings of salty butter – well, you have still to live!