Bread and baking bread could be regarded as one of the cornerstones of traditional Irish cuisine. Bread is one of the oldest sources of prepared foods, dating back to the Neolithic era. For many years, making bread was a daily task which was normally performed by the ‘bean an tí’ or ‘woman of the house’. In recent years, baking and bread making have increased in popularity and are again becoming regular activities in the domestic kitchen.
Traditionally, bread was made using naturally soured milk - a habit that has since been deemed unsafe by health and safety standards. As a result, buttermilk, now understood as milk fermented with the addition of lactic acid, was introduced. Buttermilk gives the bread a distinctive, developed flavour.
Bread making has evolved and changed over the years. In olden days, it was often baked on a hot plate over a solid fuel fire, giving the bread a fantastic crust. Today, domestic bread makers have tried to replicate that effect. Traditional commercial bakeries use stone-based ovens, which also create a good crust. In our own domestic environment, bread can be cooked in a number of ways: on the pan in the form of griddle cakes, in a liquid/casserole in the form of dumplings, or of course more traditionally, in a hot oven.
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