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Cooking Blog

Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 


Filtering by Category: Breakfast

Hargadon’s Brown Bread

john barry



I made my own soda bread awhile back and it was brilliant. I was amazed that something so simple and easy to make could be so delicious. Then I made it with Odlum’s coarse wholemeal flour.  Predictably, it was even better.

I used a recipe that was given to my brother-in-law by a customer.  The recipe included her personal baking notes. I followed the recipe as altered by the notes.  Except that I didn’t bake it in a loaf pan because I was hungry and thought that it would be done quicker if I just shaped and baked it on a sheet pan. It still took 45 minutes but it was so worth it.  It reminded me why most soda bread in Ireland is made from this type of flour. More flavor, better texture.  Although not traditional, I sprinkled the loaf with poppy seeds before putting it in the oven.  

Once the bread was done, I immediately ate a huge hunk for lunch along with some Irish cheddar, a hard boiled egg and some tomato jam. It was the perfect simple lunch. I ate some later with peach-apricot jam from this little gem right across the way from Paddy's, creme fraiche and a cup of tea.  


Of course I had to look up Hargadon’s after tasting this bread credited to it.  According to

 Back in the mid 1800’s, when this pub first opened, Hargadons was a well-loved, local hostelry with a truly unique quality. Despite the prevalence of music bars and the myriad traditional musicians in the country, Hargadons remained a ‘quiet’ bar, devoid of music and dedicated to its position as a genuine sanctuary. This policy remained in situ until fairly recent times and despite it being relaxed in the last years, it remains free of television and devoted to conversation, story telling and of course good food. The pub has been at the heart of Sligo life for over one hundred and fifty years and despite being closed for some of them, has recently returned to its rightful place, close to the heart of Sligo folk and visitors. 

It sounds like the kind of place where this bread must have originated.

If you are baking this, you must make sure to preheat your oven before you start to get your ingredients together.  This bread comes together so fast that if you don’t, you will be waiting for your oven - not the worst problem to have.

Hargadon’s Brown Bread  

  • 3 cups coarse wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Beat the eggs and the buttermilk together in a small bowl.

Create a well in your dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk-egg mixture in.

Using a wooden spoon, or your hands (I found it was easiest to use my hands and that no additional buttermilk was necessary) mix the dry and wet ingredients until no dry flour remains.

Shape the dough into a round on a greased sheet pan and cut an X across the top. The X should go about ⅔ of the way deep into the loaf.

Top with poppy seeds (optional).

Bake for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cut off a hot slice, slather with salted butter and enjoy.

My lunch date. She's getting so big and talkative. 

My lunch date. She's getting so big and talkative. 

Rachel Allen’s Brown Scones with Black Treacle

john barry


Having four kids under the age of 5 requires a lot of energy in every sense of the word.  This includes energy in the form of calories.  If I wasn’t before, I am now (justifiably, I think) ALWAYS hungry.  Now that the enormous quantities of Christmas cookies, brioche and other forms of simple carbs in my house have been successfully annihilated, I’m turning to something simple and a little more healthy for the energy (and carbs) I both need and crave. A touch more decadent than a simple brown soda bread, I discovered the recipe for these scones by Rachel Allen in her book Bake.


I cannot say enough about the virtues of baking with Coarse Wholemeal Flour. The taste and texture it gives to baked goods is like nothing else. It has a warm, nuttiness, almost like almond flour, though it bakes up lighter and more moist than any nut flour.  The texture is coarse but unlike most other coarse flours, it is unevenly so, which gives it an unmistakable consistency. I got two bags of the good stuff from Paddy’s over the holidays which came in handy when I woke up one morning wanting a warm brown scone.

See what I mean about the texture?

See what I mean about the texture?

These scones are fabulous.  I made them on a school day in about 30 minutes all in (washing up included)! I love that they only have 2 tablespoons of butter in them and just one tablespoon of sweetener.  I still don’t understand how they taste so good but they do. I probably wouldn’t have tried these if the recipe came from someone other than Rachel Allen, my secret best friend. She proves that time and time again, simple totally works. I didn’t have any sesame seeds but I did add a small amount of cardamom, which I strongly recommend if you like cardamom. I sprinkled them with sea salt and coarse sugar before baking which was also a very good idea, if I do say so myself.  I loved the salty, sweet crunch it gave each one.

Try this! Please! You can find coarse wholemeal flour at Paddy’s on the Square, or you can stop by my house and I’ll give you a couple of cups if that’s what I have to do to convince you that you need this in your pantry. Seriously. You do.


Rachel Allen’s Brown Scones with Black Treacle

Adapted ever so slightly from Rachel Allen's recipe that can be found here


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 1 ½ cups coarse wholemeal flour

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus extra for sprinkling (optional)*

  • 2 tablespoons butter, diced

  • 1 egg

  • 1 ¼  cups buttermilk or soured milk (add 2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice to 1 ¼ cup cow’s milk or soy or rice milk and leave to stand for 10–15 minutes)

  • 1 tablespoon black treacle (or dark molasses)

  • Sea salt and coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

*I didn’t have any sesame seeds but added a ½ teaspoon of cardamom, because I love it.


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Dust a baking sheet with flour.

  • Put the wholemeal, all-purpose flour and salt into a large bowl. Sift in the baking soda.

  • Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk or soured milk, then stir in the treacle (or molasses) and pour most of the liquid into the dry ingredients. Using one hand with your fingers held out like a claw, mix in full circles to bring the flour and liquid together, adding more liquid if necessary. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky.

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently bring it together into a ball, but without kneading it, then flatten it slightly to about an inch high. Cut the dough into 10–12 square or round scones. Brush the tops of the scones with any leftover liquid and sprinkle with some sea salt or coarse sugar (I used a combination of the two)

  • Put the scones onto the prepared baking sheet and pop in the oven to bake for 15–20 minutes (depending on the size of the scones). Have a look at them after 10 minutes: if they’re already a deep golden brown, then turn the heat  to 400°F, for the remainder of the cooking time. When cooked they should sound hollow when tapped on the base.

  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Brioche Two Ways

john barry


I own a bread machine and I actually use it. I’m not sure I know anyone who can say that. It seems like most bread machines are relegated to basements and second hand stores or gifted and regifted until they find themselves in one of the aforementioned spots. I think that most people who like to make bread like the tactile part of the process, kneading the dough, feeling the moisture level of it in their hands, punching it down, shaping it - that’s all part of the baking experience with breads. Others are so intimidated by yeast that even the bread machine can’t help them get over it. I’m one of the few that exists somewhere in the middle. I don't mind missing out on that kneading and artistry.  I use my bread machine all the time and having it has taken some of the “fear” out of working with yeast for me in general, even when I’m not using it.  I also love that I can just throw the ingredients in, set the timer, and have fresh bread in the morning. 

Little fingers can't wait to get their hands on this.

Little fingers can't wait to get their hands on this.

Just recently, I started to use my bread machine to make dough for shaping and baking in the oven.  This has definitely been one of those “ah-ha moments” for me, as I’ve been making no-knead pizza dough ever since burning out a gear in my stand mixer making dough a few years back. No-knead dough is incredible but requires more planning than I have in me most of the time. Bread machine to the rescue.  Now I can throw the ingredients in, set the timer and have perfect pizza dough ready to bake when I get home from work. #winning. And while I’m winning, it occurred to me that I can make brioche dough in the bread machine too. I LOVE brioche. Pillowy, eggy, golden, beautiful brioche. I love you slathered with anything, or nothing at all.  

Because making brioche dough is so easy in my bread machine (it’s pretty easy to make in a bowl too), I’ve been experimenting with different fillings and shapes. Here were two weekend winners for me.


Dr. Seuss bread - so called for its funny shape. You can read more about how to shape it here.  I used the brioche recipe that came with my bread machine, which, by the way, was handed down twice and in a friend’s basement when I unloaded it from her (full-disclosure, it took me a couple of months to use it but ever since then, we’ve been thick as thieves).  Here is a simple recipe that works great. I cut out the pieces, sprinkled them with cinnamon-sugar and slipped a few chocolate chunks inside before rolling them up and standing them upright in the pan.  I let the dough rise in the pan overnight and before baking, I brushed the loaf with egg wash and sprinkled more cinnamon-sugar over the whole thing.

Then, with the leftover dough, I made bagel bites.  I rolled out the dough in portions, stuck a ball of cream cheese in the center and closed the dough over it.  I let these rise overnight and in the morning, after preheating my oven, I brushed them with egg wash and sprinkled them with everything bagel seasoning.  


We devoured pretty much all of this buttery deliciousness. Emmett was really into the Dr. Seuss loaf and, after eating little else for a 24-hour period, insisted on taking some to school for his snack on Monday. Me, Paul, Isla and Eve polished off the bagel bites in short order.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that we also had a cherry and almond cream brioche loaf earlier in the week? I have got to stop the insanity. But it’s SO hard. I’m partial to the little filled buns and I’m already thinking of new variations.  Almond cream, Nutella, Speculous, peanut butter, black sesame, honey-tahini? Yes to all. Or savory versions like blue cheese and bacon, jalapeno-cheddar, pimento cheese, pulled pork or sundried tomato? Yes again. You could make one large batch of dough and a few different fillings and there would be something for everyone. Our bagel bites never made it past the counter but I’m sure they would be welcome at a brunch get together or playdate.  How about corned beef and cabbage filled brioche buns for your Saint Patrick's Day festivities? 

Looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Happy weekend!