I cannot think of any more fitting recipe today than this. Handed down from her mother, this is my mams brown bread. It was baked every week on a Sunday into six loaves (now that I think of it, we didn’t have it on a Saturday morning) and was devoured for breakfasts, sliced thickly for lunches and eaten in chunks after running training or whatever we were doing after school, either with her homemade raspberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry or strawberry jams or a Christmas favourite, a jar of runny Wexford honey. Always with proper butter when we were growing up. We took all this food and baking and fresh vegetables (thanks to Dad) every day, for granted and I know I thought every house was the same. I think it has slowly dawned on all four of us as we are scattered around the world not only how amazing Mam actually was as a full time working mother but how this food, always fresh, baked and cooked every day was not the norm, and that we’d actually had a pretty privileged & special, certainly food wise, childhood.
I had to measure out the ingredients for this bread to try figure how much of everything there actually is in it – her recipe is for six loaves (and I usually want to make one), involves 7 cups of this, one cup of that – she had a bread baking old tea mug that she used, but I’m pretty sure its not an actual proper cup measurement. So here goes. This makes one large loaf.
18oz brown flour (get good quality, coarse wholemeal)
4oz white flour
1 heaped teaspoon bread soda
600ml buttermilk (you may not actually use all of this – I’m still unsure why this is different sometimes – its the magic of soda bread!)
- Preheat oven to 250C – VERY HOT!
- Mix it all together. It should be quite a wet mixture – certainly not one you could knead.
- Tip it onto a parchment lined or white flour lined baking tray.
- Shape into an oval and make a cross in the top. (Habit and I’m sure it does something important to allow the bread to rise)
- Bake in a hot oven for 43 to 45 minutes. It should sound hollow when you turn it over to tap. I usually leave it turned upside down on a wire rack to cool.
I wish you many Happy Brown Bread memories too!