🍞 WEEK 3: Enriched Doughs
From the great famine to wartime rationing, as Ireland fell on hard times throughout history the Irish people were forced to get creative with limited ingredients. A great example of this ingenuity was rendering down fat from roasting meats to make beef dripping (a form of tallow) which was used to liven up bland dinners towards the end of the week when rations would run low. This week you’ll be making a Batch Bread with beef dripping which as you might be able to guess is baked in batches - commonly four or nine loaves in a single tin which are then torn apart into smaller loaves once baked. The crust is well-fired, if not a little gnarly, and you’ll find it difficult to resist tearing warm, fluffy chunks from it when it’s fresh out of the oven. Another example of frugal bread-making is the Irish potato bread which has been around since the mid-18th century when potato was used as a cheaper alternative to wheat which was scarce and expensive. Kevin Dundon shows you his version which is a great way to use up leftover mashed potato from your dinner the night before.
📺 Watch and Learn - Rassa Stories
Have a watch to understand the context to what you’re learning. This month we’re looking at Irish bread making, which is at the heart of the food landscape in Ireland linked with the island’s historical relationship with creameries, heritage grains and the country farmhouse. You’ll meet Andrew and Leonie Workman, two millers from Dunany Flour who create a coarse grain flour perfectly suited to the classic Irish soda bread and Chef Alison will take you on a foraging walk looking at sea vegetables.
Sea Foraging on North Bull Island
People have been foraging for edible plants in Ireland for centuries but much of this traditional knowledge has been lost. Watch as Chef Alison guides you through foraging for sea vegetables.
The traditional mills which exist today are not only a homage to what has come before but also play a key part in a more sustainable future. Meet Andrew and Leonie Workman of Dunany Flour.
📘 Lessons For The Week
Recipe Development - Irish Batch Bread
Kerry takes you through her thought process, and how she uses a combination of high temperature and a water bath to create the perfect loaf. She also has packed in plenty of ways you can make the bread your own including a vegetarian version with vegetable shortening.
Ingredients Introduction - Irish Batch Bread
Watch as Kerry talks through her line up of ingredients including beef dripping, an ingredient that was once a product of wartime thriftiness which has since regained popularity amongst chefs who are falling back in love with its rich, meaty flavour.
Head to the Oven - Irish Batch Bread
Learn to bake with steam, perfect your kneading techniques and create your own delicious batch of loaves, ideal for sharing with friends and family. Best enjoyed warm and with a good slathering of butter!
Share with the community
Click the button below to access the rest of your group as well as share ideas and photos of your own Batch Bread creation. If you get stuck or need any tips, the chefs are on hand to offer advice.
💭 Creative Inspiration
Flavoured Butters with Kevin Dundon
You can't trace the history of food in Ireland without bumping into the cultural significance of butter and as the old Irish saying goes "what butter and whiskey won't cure, there is no cure for"!
Potato Bread with Kevin Dundon
This Irish classic is a great way of using up leftover mashed potato. It can be enjoyed as a loaf, ideal for snacking, or you can make them into buns for sprucing up your hamburgers.
📖 Further Reading
The ritual of bread making is deeply ingrained in the story of the Irish home kitchen. Many of the iconic Irish breads are characterised by the unpredictable Atlantic weather and the island’s lush countryside. Read on to find out more…
Irish Baking: An Island Unlike Any Other
Just like the flatbreads of the Middle East, or cornbread from the plains of North America, Irish baking culture is deeply rooted in the natural features of the terrain.