Irish Freckle Bread

Irish Freckle Bread

Although there are plenty of things about our Cameroonian experience that we will be glad to leave behind (see previous post), there are also quite a few things that we will really miss when we leave.  I will miss Savon Azure, a block soap which is really effective at removing grease stains, and the cheap avocados that are available virtually the whole year round.  We will all miss the peanuts – the wonderful aroma of peanuts roasting in the oven and the sugar peanuts that you get in some of the supermarkets here.  In addition to peanuts, homemade plantain chips are a treat Adrian and I enjoy for a snack when we are in Yaoundé so we are looking forward to that in April.  We are all looking forward to eating THE best spring rolls on the verandah at Chez Wou when Rachel finishes off her reading syllabus by reading supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  And we will certainly miss the extra family time together, not forgetting the fresh, homebaked goods that we have grown accustomed to over the last 8 years (we may have to get used to more of the shop bought varieties, but more about that another time).  We will be swapping continuous warm weather for at least 6 months of cold weather, not to mention lots of rain.  We will be exchanging torrential downpours – which the kids await with keen anticipation as the wet season approaches because playing in the first rains in your swimming costume is such a lot of fun – and thunderstorms (which we enjoy) for a light mizzling rain which renders the countryside a beautiful green all year round – yes, you guessed it, we’re moving on to the emerald isle, Belfast, Northern Ireland, to be more specific.

And so I feel it is quite appropriate to share the recipe for Irish Freckle Bread with you.  In fact, it is especially appropriate as St Patrick’s Day is on the 17th of March.  Last year I made green marshmallows for St Patrick’s Day, but this year I have decided to choose something more authentic.  Potatoes are synonymous with Irish cuisine and are served with anything and everything, including pizza and pasta (a bit alarming, I know!) so it’s no surprise that potatoes are included in the bread itself.  Hence, Irish Freckle Bread is a raisin bread which includes mashed potato and potato water.  This bread is good toasted for breakfast and freezes well.

Irish Freckle Bread
Sahel Family Rating:  ****
Makes 1 (1.5 lb) loaf

½ potato (±275 g), peeled and halved again (or 25 ml Smash powder plus 100 ml boiling water)
180 ml potato water or water
350 g bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
11.25 ml yeast
40 ml sugar
2.5 ml salt
56 g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, room temperature
120 ml raisins or currants

Grease a medium (1.5 lb) loaf pan.

In a pot, boil the potato in the water for 20 to 30 minutes.  Reserve 120 ml of the water and put the potato aside to cool before mashing it.  (Alternatively, measure Smash powder and boiling water and mix together in a bowl.  Set aside to cool to lukewarm.)

Pour about 100 g of flour in the mixing bowl and add the mashed potato, yeast, sugar and salt.  Pour in the potato water (lukewarm) and beat until a smooth batter.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough aside to rise and become puffy, about 1 to 1½ hours.

Stir down the batter and add the egg, butter and raisins or currants.  Stir to mix thoroughly.  Add more flour, ½ cup at a time to make a soft, elastic ball of dough.  Don’t add too much flour – the dough should be quite soft.  If it is sticky, add sprinkles of flour.

Knead by hand or using a mixer dough hook until the dough becomes smooth, about 5-10 minutes.

There are two different ways to form Freckle Bread.  For each the dough is divided into 2 pieces and allowed to rest for 5 minutes before shaping.

The first method is to roll each piece lengthwise into a cylinder as long as the bread pan.  It will be about 5 cm in diameter.  Repeat with a second, and place the 2 pieces side by side in the pan.  They will rise together and present a divided crust down the length of the loaf.

The second method is to shape the pieces into balls and place them side by side.  They will rise together to look like two half loaves.

Cover with wax paper and leave in a warm place to rise to the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 190°C 20 minutes before baking.

Place the pan in the oven and bake until the crust is nicely browned, 35 minutes.  Turn the loaf out of its pan and tap the bottom crust with a forefinger.  A hard, hollow sound means the bread is baked.  If not, return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven and place the loaf on a wire rack until cooled.

Adapted slightly from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads


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