Roast Garlic &  Thyme Griddle  Bread with  Mushrooms, Spinach  & Poached Egg

Evelyn O'Grady


Evelyn O'Grady


On the hunt for inspiration for a brunch recipe that would offer a different take on one of our most traditional foods, our beloved soda bread, the first cookery book that sprung to mind was the wonderful  ‘Full & Plenty’ by Maura Laverty.

This gem of  a book was first published in 1960 by the  Irish Flour Millers Association. It was gifted  to me some years ago by my aunt Elaine, who  had been given it by her mother in law. My  aunt introduced it as the Irish housewives ‘go  to’ cookery manual of the time. If you haven’t  come across it, I highly recommend asking a  family member or rummaging through a  second hand book store.

Looking past the  sparse photos with their retro take on food  styling you will find a wealth of food  knowledge and a vast array of recipes which  did much to influence the tastes of a  generation and were undoubtedly  responsible for livening up many a family  dinner.

Although a cookery book,Maura  Laverty style of writing includes stories of  people, many from her childhood that tells  much of Ireland and its attitude to food in  the 1960’s.

It is no coincidence the first section of  the book is on breads after all what could be  more quintessentially Irish than soda bread.  These breads are yeast free and use soft  white or wholemeal flour or a combination of  both.

They get their name for the leavening  agent used, their aeration coming from the  reaction between the bicarbonate of soda  and the acidic buttermilk. This reaction  produces carbon dioxide which gets trapped  in the structure of the dough, the gas  expands on heating casing the dough to rise.  The trick to working with soda breads is to  avoid over handling them or leaving them  sitting around too long before baking.

Unlike  yeast breads the dough does not require  extensive mixing or kneading to develop it’s  structure. Over handling can result in a tight  or firm texture when baked. A good freshly  baked soda bread should have a soft crumb  on the inside, a slightly thick, chewy crust,  with a mildly acidic smell and a slightly salty  taste.

A soda bread that results in a ‘tingly  sensation’ on the tongue or a ‘furry’ feeling  on the teeth when eaten is more than likely  the result of too much bicarbonate of soda.  This recipe for Roasted Garlic & Thyme  Griddle bread is essentially a white soda  bread dough, which is rolled thinner than the  traditional round bannock and then baked on  a buttered heavy based pan rather than oven  baked. The addition of roasted garlic paste  and fresh thyme make it an ideal inclusion for  brunch or for mopping up your favourite  soup from the bottom of the bowl. 

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