It’s strange that I haven’t shared the recipe that I bake most often. I discovered it a cookbook that was left for us in our bedroom when we went to stay at MacNean House last year, I read it and I adapted it and now it’s rare that a week goes by without me baking it. Quick! We need bread there’s not a slice in the house. Check. Quick! we need bread for weekend lunchtime soup. Check. Quick! We have someone visiting and I need to look like a domestic goddess. Check. I have baked it in my mother-in-laws house on Christmas morning. She has baked it herself and passed the recipe on to Chub’s aunt. My aunt has not baked it however, as she doesn’t like using recipes. ‘Shur I just put in what ever I have in the press at the time, nothing ever tastes the same twice’ I asked her for her brown scone recipe and she laughed at me and gave me some very loose measurements which resulted in scones that tasted nothing like hers and something like set concrete.
But this bread is super, it gives ordinary run of the mill soda bread a little something extra; a hit of rose-mary, the sweetness from the cranberries and a crunch of walnuts. Perfect.
Recipe adapted from Neven Maguire’s Country Living Volume 2
Neven writes in the narrative that it’s his breakfast chef, Marie McGloine, who bakes this bread in the restaurant for overnight guests. I remember meeting Marie when I went to MacNean House on work experience, she was so generous with her knowledge and let me taste everything, an absolutely lovely lady.
Neven’s original recipe uses double the amount of cranberries, but I adapted it to have half as much cranberries and then added the walnuts which are a great addition.
- 450g plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 50g dried cranberries
- 50g wanuts halves, chopped lightly or crushed in your hand
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
- 350ml buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees or 200 fan.
- Sprinkle flour over a baking tray and set aside.
- Sift the flour, soda and salt into a large bowl. Add the chopped rosemary, cranberries and walnuts and mix to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk, use a wooden spoon to mix gently and bring the dough together. Once you have a nice soft dough, knead the dough lightly on the work surface and shape it into a round, roughly 15cm in diameter. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and cut a deep cross through the top (to let the fairies out)
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature by 20 degrees and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the bread is evenly golden and crusty. The bread is done if it sounds hollow when the base is tapped.
- Remove from the oven to allow to cool. Serve warm or cold.