My letter for this week's PBJ is B for Bread or Bara in Wales. I'm also sticking with my Imbolc theme as we're nearly there and bread, in my house, is always part of my Imbolc celebrations. My mum was Irish and I always remember the gorgeous Soda Bread she used to make - mine never quite works out the same but here's her recipe if you'd like to have a go. This is a plain white Soda Bread but you can add fruit to it for a special occasion. We would eat this with a coddle - an Irish stew made with sausages, bacon and onions.
DOROTHY'S SODA BREAD
1LB soda bread flour or plain flour if you can get soda bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1-2 oz of caster sugar
14-16 fl oz of buttermilk
Oven temp - 200C/ 400F gas mark 6 for 30 minutes then 150C300F gas mark 2
Sieve the flour salt and bicarbonate into a large mixing bowl and add sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in nearly all of the buttermilk, stirring until it become a sponge like dough.
Shape by hand into a circle and mark on top into quarters but don't go right through the dough. Sprinkle with flour place on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. After this time, reduce temperature and cook for a further 30 mins until well risen and a light brown in colour. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then wrap in a cloth and leave to cool completely.
As well as Soda Bread I also like to give a nod to my Welsh roots and make Bara Brith - which literally means speckled bread - a firm favourite in our house and very easy to make.
12 oz of mixed dried fruit
3/4 pint cold tea for soaking
1lb self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice - more if you like it spicey up to 1 teaspoon
8 0z soft dark brown sugar
1 small egg - beaten
a 2-3lb loaf tin
Heat oven to 170 C
Put tea and fruit in a bowl and either soak overnight or microwave on medium for about 10 minutes until the fruit has plumped up. Allow to cool. Mix flour with sugar and spice and add to the fruit and tea - add beaten egg. Mix well and spoon into tin. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours. Allow to cool then cut thinly and spread with butter if liked!