Any one who comes to Northern Ireland always remarks about the amount of bread we eat: wheaten bread, soda bread, potato bread, veda bread…..I could go on.
In fact, a survey carried out a few years ago said that half of all people here could not contemplate breakfast or lunch without it! True!
So, I was delighted to win a competition to a traditional Irish bread-making course recently as it’s something I’ve been interested in for a while, having taken to making my own wheaten bread a few years ago.
The session is run by Tracey at her farmhouse kitchen in Killinchy on the shores of Strangford Lough. We were welcomed by Tracey on Saturday morning where we were treated to tea/coffee, freshly made pancakes and fruit soda before we’d even got our hands dirty with flour!
It was then time to learn the art of traditional bread-making from our wonderful hosts Tracey and her right-hand-man “Soda bread Fred!” Fred was very informative and told us old stories of his mum’s baking and how it was a “little of this” and “a little of that”- there was no digital scales back then!
It was a very different approach for me, as I’m someone who follows a recipe to a tee. But it was great to relax and embrace the fact it’s all in the touch- if it’s too sticky, add more flour; if it’s too floury, add more buttermilk! Simple.
We made soda bread, wheaten farls and potato bread over the course of the 2 hours, watching Fred make his before we attempted our own under the guidance of our tutors.
When the breads were cooling, we were then treated to more food, sitting down to freshly made breads, jams and traybakes! Delicious- and a lovely end to the course.
I ate my homemade bread over the next few days and everything was so good! I enjoyed doing it that much that I have since bought a griddle and make my own soda bread for lunch.
It was a wonderful experience- relaxed, informative and most of all, fun! If you’re looking for a cookery class with a difference, check out Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen!