Baking bread at home is one of the simplest and easiest pleasures of the home cook, it really is one of the most satisfying things to make. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread, and once you’ve tried baking your own, I promise, you’ll be hooked, it can become addictive.
There is no easier bread to start your bread baking addiction with, than a traditional Irish soda bread. It’s only a few ingredients and once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, you can use it as a basis to get imaginative and add any extra ingredients you’d like. You can take the bread in a sweet or savoury direction, whichever way you want to go.
This recipe uses a standard soda bread recipe, but I wanted to make savoury cheesey herb scones using rosemary, thyme and chives. For the cheese I decided to go for something that would melt well, that had good flavour, something with a sweet nutty tang. Cheddar or Comte would both work well, but I wanted to use something closer to home.
Glebe Brethan is a cheese from Co. Louth and it’s absolutely delicious. It’s the Irish answer to France’s Comte and it’s even made with milk from an Irish herd of Montbeliarde cows. Montbeliarde cows originate from the Jura Mountain region in France and are famous for the quality and richness of their milk, an excellent starting point for making award-winning cheese.
Handcrafted with passion by David Tiernan and his family, this cheese has quickly become one of the jewels in the crown of Irish farmhouse cheese. These guys know what they’re doing, a thermophilic cheese made with unpasteurised milk, they are showcasing the quality of Irish farmhouse cheese to the world. Good to see cheese makers sticking to their guns in the midst of the raw milk debate which is still raging on in Ireland – lets hope they get to keep making their cheese with raw milk, it would be a terrible shame if Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry’s stance against Ireland’s Department of Agriculture was for nothing. If we lose raw milk in Ireland we lose a massive part of our culinary heritage – hats off to the Tiernan’s for keeping the fire lit! Raw milk stands for bio-diversity in an ever-increasing acutely homogenised world.
Glebe Brethan has a beautiful sweet nutty flavour and works really well in these scones. Why not tray a batch of these with some soup on Boxing Day to soothe all those hangovers, or a batch of these served warm, with some cold cuts and pickles would go down a treat.
450g plain white flour
1tsp of bread soda
1 dessert spoon each of fresh herbs (I used rosemary, thyme and chives)
150g strong cheese, grated – Glebe Brethan
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees C. Sieve the flour, salt and bread soda into a large mixing bowl. Grate 100g of the Glebe Brethan cheese and mix into the flour.
Add the fresh herbs to the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
Pour half of the buttermilk into the flour. Mix the buttermilk into the flour with one hand, try not to over work the mixture, add some more buttermilk if the mixture is too dry, the dough should be soft, not too wet. Keep some of the butter milk over for the tops of the scones.
Turn out the dough onto a well floured surface. Wash and dry your hands.
Flour your hands well and shape the dough gently into a square. Pat down lightly so that the dough is about 4cms deep.
Cut the dough into nine or 12 square scones, depending on how big you want your scones to be. Brush the top of each scone with a little buttermilk and sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the scones.
Transfer the scones to a lightly floured baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. The scones should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, when they are cooked. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Eat them still warm from the oven,with a generous spread of real butter.
Get the tea on!