by Eibhlín in Kildare Town Library
This is my mother’s recipe and always used at home in preparing for St Brigid’s day.
St. Brigid’s eve was always busy as the bread had to be baked, the St. Brigid’s crosses made and the Brat Bhríde got ready. When the turf fire was lit, the smells in the kitchen were of very early Spring. The rushes for the St. Brigid’s crosses, gathered locally, gave off a smell of fresh air and dampness, rising from the kitchen table as the crosses were made. Neighbours called in to make their own St. Brigid’s cross. My mother would spend hours in the back-kitchen baking and preparing the food. She would cut a cross in the bread dough, saying “St. Brigid Bless this Bread” over each loaf before putting it in the oven.
The Brat Bhríde, cut from a piece of fabric would be placed outside in the garden that evening for Brigid to bless as she walked the land on the eve of St. Brigid’s Day. This Brat Bhríde was said to hold powers of healing. It was kept in a special place in the house and when an illness occurred it would be placed on the sick person to heal them. The Brat Bríde was also used on sick animals as Brigid was known for having an affinity with animals.
2 lb (907g) wholemeal flour
8 oz (227g) cream flour
4 flat teaspoons of salt
4 flat teaspoons of Demerara sugar
4 flat teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
4 fistfuls of bran
1 Litre Buttermilk
4 eggs and an extra beaten egg for the eggwash
Large mixing bowl, Medium mixing
bowl, Spatula, Spoons, Pastry brush
3 x 2 lb Loaf tins.
3 x 2 lb cake/bread liners
or use parchment paper to line tins.
Set the oven to heat at 170C. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix
well. Combine wet ingredients in medium bowl. Mix well. Add wet
ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together. Mixture will be wet. Add
some wholemeal flour if necessary until it’s a dropping consistency.
Distribute mixture between the three loaf tins, using the spatula to clean the sides of the bowl. Wet a spoon and even out the top of the bread dough. Brush egg wash on the loaves. Make a cross on the bread using a knife. This is a blessing for St. Brigid’s Day and also allows the bread to breathe. Bake at 170C for approximately 1 hour.
Check if bread is baked by turning out of the tin and knocking on the base.
If the bread is baked you will hear a hollow sound. If not, put bread back in
the oven without the tin for another 10 minutes or so… When baked
remove from oven. Remove tin and paper and leave to cool on a rack to let
the air circulate and let it dry. Wrap in a clean dry tea towel.
Bread can be eaten fresh or frozen, handy for those homeschooling days
for a healthy lunch with soup or cheese.