Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Irish oatmeal bread: don't wait for the snow

We Brits are hopeless, really. We spend much of the time moaning that we don't get proper winters any more, and then as soon as we do, we moan about that, too.

Still, there's no doubt that conditions have been, erm, a little challenging of late. I live in balmy south London, and even here, it's been difficult to get out for the past few days. Roads and pavements have been transformed into veritable ice rinks, and only now does the snow and ice seem finally to be melting away.

And wait - we'll moan about how everything looks dull and dreary again now it's not all covered in Narnian white... ;-)

Like many, the conditions outside have meant that I've been forced to resort to the freezer and the cupboards rather more than I would do usually, and I hit a particular crisis at the weekend when I ran out of bread.

Yikes! No bread??

And no bread flour or yeast, either. Hmmm. Or buttermilk. Or anything, really, that looked like it would help make some half-decent bread. Added to that was the slight dilemma that I'm a little intolerant to wheat, so I try to eat wheat-minimal bread if possible. Rye and spelt are my preferred alternatives - luckily for me, both flours make terrific bread. But on this occasion, I didn't have rye or spelt flour either.

Cue some frantic interwebby searching via that faithful friend, Google. And lo, shortly afterwards, I found an answer. Not the Holy Grail, perhaps, but certainly a potential worthy contender in the acceptable bread stakes.

Not that I wasn't a tad sceptical. American recipes with American measurements tend to do that to me. Although I have cup and tablespoon measures, I don't think they're greatly accurate to use in practice, and can sometimes be plain barking, especially for those of us in the UK. For instance, I recently came across a recipe which required 8 tablespoons of butter. I mean, really. The great oracle, Twitter, subsequently informed me that in the US, butter packs come with tablespoon measurements already marked on the wrapper. Well, that's great. In the UK, they don't.

Anyway, enough of that. The bread, people, the bread.

I read the recipe, read the reviews, and adjusted and tweaked to fit the ingredients I had. I shoved the dough in the tin, popped it in the oven, crossed my fingers, and left it to do whatever it was going to do. To say I wasn't overly hopeful would be putting it mildly.

Fifty minutes later, though, and I was preparing to eat humble pie. Or, to be more precise, warm, oaty bread. Because it worked. It worked brilliantly well. And moreover, it tasted great. If you've ever had soda bread, the taste and texture is much the same - which makes this oatmeal bread a complete winner for me since I happen to be a firm fan of soda stuff.

Irish oatmeal bread 1

Irish oatmeal bread 2

And the best thing? It's SO ridiculously quick and easy to make. The next best thing is that you don't need bread flour, yeast, or a bread maker. You need 2 bowls and a 2lb loaf tin or a baking sheet. And an oven, obviously. That's IT.

The recipe's here. I used SR flour + 0.5 tbsp of baking powder (and could have probably got away with using less, or even none). I used a very ordinary runny honey - it'd be easy to ring the changes with different varieties of honey. I forgot the salt (I'd recommend no more than a teaspoon, though, if you want to include it). I baked it for just over 50 minutes in all. It was that simple.

And I ate the lot.

And I won't be leaving it as an emergency recipe next time. This is going to be a regular in this household from now on.


things we make said...

Wow. That does look super easy. I may even make that today. Thanks for sharing. Will let you know how it goes.

George@CulinaryTravels said...

That does look fabulous. Definitely one to try as I love soda breads/wheaten breads.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

This bread looks incredible, I am definitely hoping to make more bread this year. I did laugh last week when people were panic buying bread as I thought what a great opportunity to make your own but I guess most people don't think like that! I've been victim of American measuring/descriptions lately having mixed up my powdered and superfine sugars. I thought they were same thing but apparently they don't just call icing sugar "confectioners sugar" they call it powdered aswell. Cue numerous batches of failed macarons...

Nora said...

That looks so easy and so good! Will definitely be trying this. Just the ticket for a bread shortage!

Pia K said...

that looks grand and very very edible!

if you find yourself short of ingredients at another time, might i suggest you try a very tasty and simple carrot bread http://piaks.blogspot.com/2007/06/carrot-defect.html
(the defect is all mine and the bread is lovely)

i knew there was a reason for me feeling so at home on the british isles, it must be the weather moaning, oh my och sigh swedes and brits alike...;)

scandilicious said...

love the sound of this oatmeal twist on what Americans call "quick bread"

incidentally if you don't have any buttermilk to hand simply acidulate the same quantity of milk with a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice - handy for those soda bread cravings :-)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Claire - looking forward to hearing how you get on!

George - if you like soda-type breads, you'll love this

Sarah - hah! Yes, dealing with US recipes can be a little challenging at times... ;)

Nora - yep, definitely a good one to have up your sleeve for a bread shortage. But I'd recommend making it more often than that

Pia - thank you, and thanks, too, for the carrot bread recipe. Intriguing, so I'll be trying it!

Sig - ah, yes. Good tip - thanks for the reminder.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, that looks good!! No cold nor snow around here, but I'd sure like a slice of this beauty anyway. ;)

things we make said...

I did it! See my efforts here: http://wp.me/pxmpF-in.
I've had 3 slices already.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Patricia - yes, no need for snow. Good for any time!

Claire - oooh, that looks very impressive indeed! Glad you liked it

Anonymous said...

Snowy days are the best to cook and bake! Such a particular atmosphere that you want to spend hours and hours in a warm and welcoming kitchen!

green apple sorbet said...

Will definitely give this a go, thank you!
Happy cooking.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

I tried making this once I think....not with any great success. Looks great....

Cakelaw said...

This bread looks fab - amazing what you can come up with in an emergency. I never understood that whole butter measured in tablespoons either til now (it's rock solid!), but luckily for me I have a US recipe book with a conversion table in the back - it's the only thing I use that book for.

Helen said...

Brilliant! Well done for being so resourceful! I am very impressed. Sometimes, a woman just needs bread.

Foodycat said...

It looks good! Warm fresh bread is so delicious!

Johanna GGG said...

yeah there are some reasons we have the term 'whinging pom' in Australia - ha ha - though whatever happened to 'mustn't grumble' which is one of my fave brit expressions

well no grumbling or whinging about this bread - sounds excellent - I love oaty easy bread

Manggy said...

Hah, and here I was about to suggest soda bread after the first few paragraphs (I was slow to pick up the title... Oops). I hope the weather-woes have subsided and things are starting to look sunny on all fronts.

And though we in the Philippines get butter in 225g packages (2 sticks or half a pound), measuring anything, especially butter, in cups and spoons is just soooo tedious. The conversion table's built into my head already!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Mathilde - couldn't agree more. Kitchen = cosiest place on a cold winter's day!

GAS - hope you enjoy it

Kitchen Butterfly - give it another go. I honestly don't think there's much that can go wrong

Cakelaw - make sure you never throw that book out!

Helen - cheers. This woman almost always wants bread. Can be a problem ;)

Foodycat - it certainly is!

GGG - I'm sure you'll love this bread, then

Mark - your brain obviously works better than mine ;)

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Anonymous said...

Can you plz refine the recipie. How will you mix the dry part in wet? Wet part is the honey? I want to make this bread for a diabetic. So honey can be replaced by milk or what?