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Seaweed Soda Bread
Roots

Every Irish family has their own take on the recipe, with variations depending on the flour, seeds, sweeteners or additives used. Older Irish recipes would have contained more rye and barley than breads today as they were easier to grow, although nowadays the soda bread is a staple in every household in Ireland. Traditionally it would also be baked as a round loaf in 3 legged iron pots over an open fire or baked on griddles. There are lots of variations of this recipe depending on the flour, sweetener or additives used but typically it's served savoury as an accompaniment to stews and soups with a side of butter in pubs and restaurants across the Island.

Techniques

Foraged Ingredients - Learn how to use foraged ingredients in your recipes, understanding the unique flavours they bring to the bread.

Soda Leavening - Master quick leavening techniques by creating a reaction in the dough.

Coarse Flour - Begin to understand the variety of different flours and how they affect the finished product of a recipe.

Ingredients
Serving Size
Serves: 10 slices
  • 330g Wholemeal coarse flour (Alison uses local supplier ‘Dunany’)
  • 95g White strong flour
  • 15g Dillisk seaweed (lightly blitz in a blender or chop into small pieces)
  • 10g Bread soda/bicarbonate of soda
  • 5g Salt
  • 50g Brown sugar
  • 430ml Buttermilk
  • 50g Buckwheat nibs
  • 50g Porridge oats
Equipment
Utensils

1x 9inch loaf tin, 1x large measuring jug, 1x large mixing bowl, 1x spatula, 1x wire rack, 1x whisk, 1x scales, 1x serving board/plate, 2x small bowls, 1x tablespoon

Pre-Preparation

No pre-lesson preparation needed.

Cooking Method
Step 1 (0:04)

In a large mixing bowl add your coarse wholemeal flour, plain flour, brown sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda, making sure you mix well to remove any clumps. Then add the seaweed, as well as the buckwheat nibs and porridge oats leaving a small amount of both behind to garnish on top. Now mix again really well ensuring everything is evenly distributed.

Step 2 (1:57)

Pre-heat your oven to 200°C (390°F). Now create a well (see video for technique) in the centre of the bowl so that you can add your buttermilk gradually to the dry ingredients. Add a portion of the buttermilk into the well and start to incorporate it with the surrounding dry ingredients together into a batter. Add a second portion of buttermilk and mix well once more making sure everything is coming together nicely. Keep folding the batter and gradually adding more buttermilk until we have achieved that dropping consistency.

Leave your porridge-like batter for 5 minutes for the bicarbonate of soda to react with the acid in the buttermilk starting our reaction for the leavening of the bread.

Step 3 (4:22)

Grease your baking tin with butter, cooking spray or line with baking parchment. Give your batter one more mix and pour into the baking tin making sure to leave nothing behind in the bowl. Slightly smooth the mix in the tin so we can achieve an even rise and garnish with the leftover porridge oats and buckwheat nibs, then it's ready for the oven. Place the bread into your preheated oven for 30 minutes before we remove it from the tin.

Step 4 (6:09)

Now let's create the whipped butter. Taking room temperature salted butter, whip until it becomes a pale yellow colour and fluffy. Set to one side until we need it. After the bread has been in the oven for 30 minutes remove and take it out of your tin. Reduce the heat to 150°C (300°F) and bake for another 25 minutes. Once the bread has been in the oven for 25 minutes without the tin, take it out and tap the bottom of the bread. We are looking for a hollow sound. Place the loaf on a cooling rack and leave to completely cool before slicing.

Step 5 (8:40)

Take the whipped butter you made earlier and push it to one side in the bowl to create a mound and spoon the butter into a serving dish of your choice. Now take your cooled bread and cut it into thick slices, butter generously and serve!

Alison Tierney
's Notes

Step 1

As with the last bread, we made sure all the dry ingredients are really well combined and mixed keeping an eye out for any lumps of flour, sugar or bicarbonate of soda. Mixing this well will ensure we have an even rise and flavour. To avoid any lumps you could also sift your ingredients into the bowl but you may struggle to pass the coarse flour.

Dillisk Seaweed - for this recipe you will receive 15g of dried and powdered seaweed. For the future, if you ever wanted to dry and powder your own seaweed place it in the oven at 100°C (approx 210°F) leaving it to slowly dry roast for 40 mins. Once roasted, leave to cool and then blitz in a food processor until a fine consistent powder has been achieved.

Step 2

The reason for adding the wet ingredient gradually is the flour will change its ability to absorb liquid throughout its life cycle.

When you have added your first bit of buttermilk you will begin to smell the seaweed as we have begun to rehydrate it slightly.

You are looking for a dropping consistency that is similar in texture to thick porridge.

Similar to Kerry's recipe last week, the reaction taking place from the bicarbonate of soda and the acid in the buttermilk will create carbon dioxide pockets in the dough.

Step 3

Smoothing the bread in the tin before we bake will give us an even rise, this simple step is key to achieving a refined loaf.

Step 4

You will need to create your own flavoured butter for the live class in week 4 of the bread module. Although this is a simple technique, start thinking about the quality of butter you want to use as well as what to flavour it with.

We remove the loaf from the tin midway through baking to consistently colour the outside of the bread. Using this technique will ensure the inside of the bread cooks whilst having more control over how deeply we colour our loaf.

"The hollow sound" The reason bread sounds hollow and becomes light when picked up is due to the interior becoming fully set and the sponge becomes open. If your loaf is undercooked and feels heavy and dense often the inside of the bread will still have a continuous glutinous mass with air bubbles embedded in the raw dough, hence the heavier weight and dense sound.

I like to leave the loaf to cool completely before eating because it allows the crust to set and any further cooking takes place as the temperature comes down.

Step 5

When spooning your butter feel free to get creative however there are 2 classical ways to do it. First a quenelle with 2 pointed ends and a rocher which gives you one pointed end and one curved. Take a look at how to do the techniques below.

Quenelle

Taking a bowl of warm water submerge two identical spoons and leave for a few seconds just to become warm. Remove from the water and shake lightly removing any excess water. Take a spoonful of your ingredient, in this case, butter, in one spoon and pass the mixture between spoons repeatedly smoothing one surface each time. Repeat the process until you have two points and smooth sides. Rubbing the underside of the spoon to heat it up should allow the butter to slide off easily for you to tip onto your plate.

Rocher

With a spoon (ideally with a pointed shape as it goes up and joins the handle) submerge into warm water and leave to become warm. Remove from the water and shake lightly. Take the spoon in your dominant hand and place it into the butter with the bowl of the spoon facing away from you. Push the spoon away to the edge of the butter and then curl the spoon back round forming the cylindrical shape, pull out of the bowl and same as with the quenelle you transfer the butter to your plate by rubbing the underside of the spoon and tipping it onto the plate.

If you notice a hole in the middle of your bread once you've sliced it that tells us the loaf is still underbaked.

Once sliced, looking at the cross section of the bread we should see well spread out seaweed, flecks of porridge oats and buckwheat nibs as well as an even crust around the edge and a dense texture.

Get Creative
  • Flavourings - This bread can be taken either way, don't be afraid to add in your own favourite combinations. Whether this is something savoury like thyme or sweet cocao nibs.
  • Butter - Creating a flavoured butter is part of our live class, get creative with enhancing the flavours of the bread.
  • Shaping - Shape your bread in a loaf tin of your choice. I suggest playing with the shaping depending on how your going to serve the bread!
Allergens
  • May contain soya
  • Gluten
  • Wheat
  • Milk
  • Oats
  • Always check the packaging as allergens may vary depending on the supplier
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Alison Tierney
I've worked in a variety of restaurants from casual to Michelin star and follow the ethos of using the best local produce from our Island.