Tag Archives: Bread

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb- Forgotten Veg

Technically fruit I know, but how many people still have rhubarb growing in their back garden?

Rhubarb in situ

Rhubarb in situ

Rhubarb is a very very old plant.  It has been recorded for medicinal use in China since 2700BC, when it was classed as potent, and used for purgative effect!  Possibly introduced into Europe by Marco Polo, it has records of use in Italy in 1608.  Most of the rhubarb today is Rheum x hybridum.  And when introduced to Britain in the 14th Century, it cost more than opium, saffron and cinnamon.

Rhubarb stalks

Rhubarb stalks

Hannah Glasse is attributed with what is believed to be one of the first recipes for rhubarb in print in 1760, 13 years after her other famous ‘first’ – the recipe for Yorkshire Pudding. Her recipe in the Compleat Confectioner tells of taking the stalks of English rhubarb, cutting to the size of gooseberries, sweetening and making as you would a gooseberry tart.

Jam is a great use for rhubarb, especially towards the end of the season.  And very simple, but takes planning as the fruit is left overnight to macerate in the sugar.

Fruit and sugar ready to soak overnight

Fruit and sugar ready to soak overnight

and the next day it looks like this…

rhubarb jam in the making

rhubarb jam in the making

Once boiled and jarred, remember it’s best to boil the bejaysus out of it to the right consistency to keep the colour and flavour as good as possible.

Freshly made Rhubarb jam on Nigel's poolish bread

Freshly made Rhubarb jam on Nigel’s poolish bread

Another favourite, and old recipe is that for Rhubarb fool.  The phrase, “are you having the fool, fool?” is often bandied around the table.  In Ballymaloe there was much discussion on the contents of fool.  When we were growing up, it was stewed fruit added to equal quantities of custard and whipped cream.

Rhubarb Fool

Rhubarb Fool

But whatever way you have it, it’s delicious.

Granny’s Bread

Rory O’Connell introduced us to the Ballymaloe Yeast bread, and while doing so to the “Grant” loaf A Grant loaf is a wholemeal bread, invented by accident in World War II by baker Doris Grant to encourage workers to eat well on their rations. The loaf was subsequently named after her. It is peculiar amongst breads made with a yeast in that kneading is not necessary.  We learn to cook the Ballymaloe version, which I am quite sure is far tastier than poor Doris Grants.

My Brown Yeast Bread

My Brown Yeast Bread

I however, was eating this bread before I had even heard of Ballymaloe, as this was the bread my mum in law made, nearly every day up until about a year ago when the thermomix arrived.  So since I was about 16 I have loved this bread.  I often said if I opened a restaurant she would have to make the bread.  I loved it every single time I had it.  Both of my children would rush into their house and look for the bread with homemade jam or honey.  And she never said no, even making extra loaves when she knew they were coming.

One time, when the kids were quite small, Jordan must have been about two, we were travelling back from visiting a friend in Cork, and were dropping into Mrs Allen in the house, to collect the turkey.  They were closing for Christmas that day and we were invited to stay for lunch.  I tentatively accepted, and quickly spoke to both children about the absolute necessity of being on their BEST behaviour, no running around, no noises etc, and to eat everything. So we sat down to soup, and all was going well until Jordan was offered bread, and said in a VERY loud voice.. “What, they eat Granny’s bread here too?”  I nearly died of embarrassment, but it was just laughed at, and soon the kids were playing with Rachels’, sliding down the stairs on trays. So now in Ballymaloe I am learning to make Granny’s bread, and many more.  From sourdough

The third stage of the sourdough- adding the sponge to the flours

The third stage of the sourdough- adding the sponge to the flours

My first loaf of sourdough

My first loaf of sourdough

To white yeast rolls,

White yeast bread rolls

White yeast bread rolls

to white soda bread

White soda bread

White soda bread

 

to sunflowers.

The sunflower prior to baking

The sunflower prior to baking

My finished sunfower

My finished sunfower

 

And loving it, mind you I think Nigel will still be the main bread maker in the family.  But it’s always good to have a back up.