Tuesday, February 1, 2011

St. Brigid's Day

St. Brigid's Oaten Bread


You will feel the influence of the saint in this wonderful bread. Rich! Again we celebrate the farm and the oats and wheat. Great with home made butter as well.  Make this loaf into a strohn or wheat sheaf.  Form the dough into three equal balls and one ball about 1/3 the size of the others. Form each large ball into a rectangular strip-do not over work. Place all three strips next to one another. Bend the tops and bottoms  of the outer strips slightly outward. Using a knife make indentations vertically in each strip. Not too deep- enough to convey the image of wheat.  Take the remaining smaller ball and make a narrow strip which is as long as the middle of the sheaf. Place that horizontally across the center as the binding of the sheaf it should stick to the sheaf. You can wrap the ends slightly over the sides. Using a knife lightly cut a herringbone texture into the binding strip.    
as in: 
In this form you can leave the bread out for the saint on the eve of Feb. 1.

1 cup flour,
1 tablespoon sugar,
3/4 teaspoons baking powder,
1/4 teaspoon baking soda,
1/4 teaspoon salt.,
3 tablespoons butter in small pieces,
3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal
 1 egg,
1/2 cup buttermilk

1.heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. grease baking sheet.
3.combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl and mix. 
4.Add butter bits and cut in with knife until mixture is crumbly. 5.add oats and toss to combine. 
6.in other bowl beat egg with buttermilk. 
7.make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg mixture and mix with a fork until crumbs hold together. Make dough into ball and transfer to floured surface. Knead only till it holds together. . Add flour but only  if too  sticky to work I like to simply coat the loaf with flour so it does not stick to the hands.. 
8.pat dough into 8-inch round and transfer to baking sheet. 9.score a deep cross into the bread but do not cut it through 10.bake 15-20 minutes till brown. (this bread tends to be done when browning is light to medium brown)

Make a St. Brigid's Day Cross to Bless your house:


It is said St. Brigid comes to visit on her Feast Day, blessing people and livestock, bringing her white, red-eared cow with her. To welcome her, families leave an oaten cake and butter on the windowsill -- and corn for her cow.

Families also hang a ribbon or handkerchief out on trees or clotheslines, believing that if the Saint touched it it would have curative powers. These ribbons or handkerchiefs are called "St. Brigid's Mantle."

Because of St. Brigid's association with fire, the building of bonefires would be fitting, too, if you live in a temperate zone. Fire and light are the perfect segue into Candlemas tomorrow, too, a day known as a "Feast of Light."

And, yes, food is involved in the celebration of St. Brigid's life. Boxty Cakes, and St. Brigid's Oatcakes for the children are the thing:

Boxty Cakes (makes 12)

1/2 pound hot cooked potatoes
1/2 pound grated raw potatoes
2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Butter for frying
Salt and pepper

Drain, peel and mash the hot potatoes. Stir in the raw potatoes, flour and baking soda. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with enough buttermilk to make a stiff batter. Shape into 3 inch patties about 1/4 inch thick and fry on hot greased griddle until crispy and golden on both sides. 

St. Brigid's Oatcakes (serves 4) This recipe needs to be soaked overnight.

2 cups uncooked, old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 1/2 cups sifted bread flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil spray

A day ahead, combine the oats and buttermilk in a small bowl. Blend thoroughly, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the oat mixture from the refrigerator. Combine the bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon 20 to 30 times, or until you have a smooth dough. Grease a baking sheet with the oil spray. Turn the dough onto the baking sheet, and use your hands to form a round, cake-shaped loaf about 1-inch thick. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 4 quarters. Move the quarters apart slightly, but keep them in the original round shape. Bake until the cakes are light golden brown and firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack, and serve with butter and jam or preserves. Makes 1 loaf (in quarters). 

Raise a Glass to Saint Brigid’s Health!

An Irish celebration without a drink? Near impossible ... Brigid was after all famous for brewing ale. So feel free to have a pint. In honour of the saint, naturally.

Stories about St. Brigid http://www.stbrigid.ie/content/story-st-brigid

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