This is another recipe passed down from Old Jimmy McCarthy, a soda bread baker from the People’s Republic of Cork. This wholesome, soda bread from rustic Ireland looks and tastes like it was prepared with hours of love and care in front of a cosy turf fire by dedicated Corkonians listening to the Celtic Sea wind whistling down the chimney. The reality being, it’s very easy to make and requires no rising time. A warm loaf, ready to be buttered, can be out of the oven in roundabout 50-55 minutes. Best served with a chilled glass of Murphy’s.
Baking Time: 50-55 minutes
Makes: One large loaf
500g wholemeal plain flour
50g rolled oats
10g fine salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
40g unsalted butter, cubed
150g Murphy’s Irish Stout
175g natural yogurt
60g black treacle
1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C, gas 6. Grease a large baking tray. Put the flour, oats, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and them blend together using spoon. Add the cubed butter and rub it into the dry ingredients using your hands. Make sure no large visible lumps are remaining. Using another mixing bowl, stir together the stout, yogurt and treacle, until the treacle dissolves – this takes a little time, but be patient and all will come together.
2. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, with firm hand, bring everything together into a dough. Then form the dough into a ball and put it on the greased baking tray. Using a knife cut a shallow cross into the centre of the dough (in traditional Irish baking folklore, this lets the fairies of the west fly out from the loaf, but it also helps the bread bake). Bake for 50-55 minutes until golden brown.
3. When ready, transfer to a wire rack. If you like the crust soft, cover with a tea towel. While the bread is still warm break the loaf into quarters and spread each quarter with butter. Murphy’s Irish Stout Soda bread is best eaten while warm with a chilled glass of Murphy’s.
When life looks as black as pitch, A pint of Murphy’s will make you rich, but with a Baker’s dozen you could end of in a ditch.” – Old Jimmy McCarthy, Soda Bread Baker, on responsible stout drinking.
Cork: The Home of Old McCarthy’s Irish Stout Soda Bread and the Blarney Stone
When in Cork, as well as savouring a lovely pint of Murphy’s, which is known to massively increase the blarney level, why not up your blarney levels, if they’re unnaturally low, by visiting Blarney Castle and kissing the Blarney Stone?
Just north west of the city of Cork City, Blarney Castle is one of Cork’s and Ireland’s most famous attractions. This old medieval fortress is known throughout the English-speaking world as the home of the Blarney Stone, said to give those who kiss this magical stone the “gift of the gab” or as they say in the USA the “gift of gab”, the ability to speak with ease and confidence in a way that makes people want to listen and want to believe what you’re saying. Needless to say many people working in the fields of advertising and sales and marketing have been drawn to this stone.
The castle, built over six centuries ago by the Irish warlord Cormac MacCarthy, attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. Once inside the castle walls, visitors can climb up on to the battlements and kiss the famous stone and take in the views of the verdant Cork countryside. You can also explore this massive stone edifice and its gruesome dungeons.
Where to find the Blarney Castle: Monacnapa, Blarney, Co. Cork, just outside of Cork City.
Official website: www.blarneycastle.ie