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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Recipes with plain flour

02May 12

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Irish Brown Soda BreadI’ve given this classic soda bread recipe a little twist with the addition of walnuts, which I think work really well with the wholemeal version of the bread and are incredibly tasty in combination with cream cheeseIrish brown soda bread with cream cheese and smoked salmon would make a perfect light supper for those of you celebrating St Patrick’s Day, and whose tummies were heartily filled at lunch time with a roast welsh lamb with garlic and rosemary recipe.  Irish flour is traditionally made from soft wheat so, if you can’t get hold of the real thing, you’ll get a more authentic result if you use a pastry or cake-making flour, as this is also made from soft wheat.  I have heard it said that Guinness can be used in place of the buttermilk, but I’ve never tried that!

What you need:

  • 175g wholemeal flour, self-raising
  • 175g plain or cake making flour (soft flour where possible)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1-2 generous handfuls of chopped walnuts
  • 1-2 generous handfuls of raisins
  • Tub of good quality cream cheese
  • Packet of good quality smoked salmon slices

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Mix the 2 flours along with the walnuts, raisins, the bicarbonate of soda and the salt, in a large bowl.
  3. Create a well in the centre of the flour, pour almost all of the buttermilk in, then quickly but carefully, bind the mixture together using a large fork.  Add the remainder of the buttermilk if necessary to form dough that is neither too sticky, nor too stiff in consistency, working the dough as little as possible.
  4. Take a baking tray and lightly dust it with plain flour.  Mould the dough into a ball and slightly flatten it before placing it onto the tray.
  5. Bake the dough in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until the loaf gives a hollow sound when you tap the base.  When cooked, turn the bread out onto a cooling rack.
  6. Serve warm if possible with the cream cheese and the smoked salmon.  Delicious!

Enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine, or a Guinness if you prefer!

Less than 30 minutes to prepare, 30 minutes to cook

Makes: 6 servings

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03Apr 12

Easter Hot Cross Buns Part 2

This is where we continue with the creation of the dough.  We will bake the Easter hot cross buns and decorate them with the classic piped white cross shape.  You will need to visit part 1 of this recipe for the ingredients and instructions on the first part of the dough creation.

What you need:

For the topping

  • A little vegetable oil for greasing
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup for the glaze, hot
  • Cinnamon powder for dusting

What to do:

  1. Clean and re-flour the work surface, and divide the risen dough into 12 even parts.  Roll each piece into a round, then with the palms of your hands, flatten each ball a little into a bun shape.  Re-cover the buns with the tea towel for another 10 minutes.
  2. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and move the buns to the tray.  Wrap parchment paper around the tray and buns and put it inside a large plastic bag (a clean shopping bag, for example), tying the bag tightly to seal out the air.  Once again, leave the buns in the airing cupboard for another 45 minutes to rise some more.
  3. Take a deep breath, and preheat the oven to 240ºC.
  4. Whilst the buns do their final rise, make the cross topping.  Put the plain flour into a mixing bowl and stir to a smooth paste with 2 tbsp cold water.
  5. Once the buns have risen, remove them from the bag and paper, put the cross topping into a piping bag and draw a cross shape with the mixture onto each bun.
  6. Bake the buns on the tray in the oven for 8-12 minutes, until they turn a pale golden brown.  Remove them and brush them over with hot golden syrup, then dust with cinnamon powder.  Leave them to cool on a wire rack or enjoy them fresh and warm.  You deserve it!

More than 2 hours to prepare – 10-20 minutes to cook
Makes: 12 hot cross buns

Note: For an extra twist on the classic recipe, try these cherry and walnut hot cross buns.

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03Apr 12

Easter Hot Cross Buns Part 1

Hot Cross Buns -1This is quite a time-consuming little project, making your own traditional Easter Hot Cross Buns. But believe me, if you can make the time, it’s worth it to eat them fresh from the oven; lavished with butter, or topped with a thick layer of seasonal rhubarb and ginger jam.  It’s also a great idea for something to do with the kids during the Easter holidays, if you find yourselves stuck in on a rainy day. (Try this especially kid-friendly hot cross bun recipe.)  I’ve split this recipe into 2 parts.  Visit part 2 for instructions on finalising the dough, baking and decorating.

What you need:

For the buns

  • 630g strong white flour
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, use a tiny bit for greasing the baking tray
  • 90g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast, fast-acting
  • 275ml milk, slightly warmed to tepid
  • 1 medium egg
  • 130g mixed dried fruit

What to do:

To start the process of making the dough

  1. To make the buns, sieve the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt over a large mixing bowl.  Peel the lemon with a zest peeler and leave to one side.  Add the butter to the flour, rubbing it into the mix with the tips of your fingers.  Create a well shape in the middle of the mixture. Next, add the sugar, yeast and the lemon zest.
  2. Beat the egg together with the tepid milk and add that to the well.  Mix everything together to create a soft and pliable dough.  Gently combine the dried fruit into the mixture.
  3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough onto it gently and lightly for about 4-6 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.  Shape it into a ball.
  4. Warm a plastic or ceramic mixing bowl in the microwave for a few seconds, grease it with butter, place the dough ball inside, cover it lightly with a clean tea towel, and leave it in the airing cupboard or somewhere warm to rise for one hour.
  5. On your floured work surface, knead the dough again, but roughly this time, for a few minutes – to knock-out some of the air and return it to the shape it was before you left it to rise.  Shape it back into a ball, pop it back into the bowl, cover it again and leave it for another half an hour to re-rise.

 continued in part 2

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