19 June 2011

An Spéice Brown Bread

After much searching on the internet for the bread that I loved so much and enjoyed daily in Ireland, I e-mailed our favorite bed and breakfast, An Spéice, asking for the recipe. Mrs. Hannafin happily obliged, e-mailing me with the recipe.

A few notes on recipes from other countries:
  • Be sure to convert the temperature. This recipe calls for 220 degrees, but that is in Celsius. I baked this at about 430 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  • Measuring... I use a scale. The recipe uses ounces, but as we know, 8 ounces of liquid can be quite a different amount than 8 ounces of flour. I can not stress enough the importance of a good kitchen scale. I am lucky that our friend, S, gave a wonderful scale as a wedding gift. I use it so often that I don't know how I got along without one before. 
  • Patience. I am baking this bread for the second time this morning. I made some miscalculations, though slight, that really botched up the first round last night. Try, try again! We'll have nice warm fresh from the oven bread for breakfast this morning. Who can complain about that. 
  • Proper equipment - If the recipe calls for a specific pan or tool, use it. It can make a world of difference in your results. 
This bread is not a traditional batter or dough. Yeast is not used and it is quite a bit runnier than a banana bread batter. It calls for 1.5 liters of buttermilk. That's a lot of liquid. When I made it last night, I thought surely I'd made a mistake (I did actually, but not in the making of the batter, but in oven temperature and placement of the rack, for which there were not instructions). I recommend the lowest level for the rack and watching the bread in the last 15 minutes to be sure the top doesn't burn. If it's browning to much, place aluminum foil over the top. The recipe is simple once you properly convert it.

This bread is everything I loved about Ireland. It's warm and inviting, sweet and lovely. It has soft texture and amazingly buttery flavor. It is incredible warm with jam or room temperature with a thick soup or stew. It goes with almost any meal. I especially love it with Guinness and beef stew or lamb stew.

After what was to be a relaxing four day weekend for us turned out to be anything but relaxing, it is so nice to sit down with a cup of Barry's Irish tea and a couple of slices of this bread with some black raspberry jam and relax.

One day we will go back to Ireland (just the other night we were telling friends that we would love to live there). One day I will have this bread there, again.

For now, I will make this a family tradition. Saturday and Sunday mornings it will be on our breakfast table with jam.

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