Give us this day

The line about bread was the one that always stuck in my head during those primary school daily recitations of the Lord's Prayer. It was years before I actually saw the words written down so most of it was just a mumbled chant with odd words picked out here and there, but that line, the one about daily bread, I knew that one, the words were crisp and clear and made perfect sense.

I have always loved bread, I flirted briefly with the Atkins diet, I think I even bought the book, but to give up bread? Just too hard.

When I moved to England at 18 to go to college I was initially horrified to find that my daily breads were not readily available. At that time most of the, now quite fashionable, Irish breads had not made it to the shelves of English supermarkets. There was no wheaten bread to eat with my soup, potato bread was scarce and not as good, soda farls - the essential accompaniment to a fried egg, were noticeable only in their absence and worst of all, no Veda bread. Back then I could have eaten a whole loaf of Veda, thick slices toasted on the Aga, eaten dripping in butter. In fact I could eat a whole loaf now but the results would be rather more obvious on my hips.

As a student I worked evenings in a London Irish bar where a kind middle-aged mammy took pity upon me and brought me a loaf of home-baked wheaten bread once a week, it was perfect, a little taste of home, I had to hide it from my house-mates.

I suppose given my fondness for bread it is no surprise that I would eventually start to bake my own. I began, like so many, with a bread machine, eventual frustrations with its limitations and I began to knead the dough using the dough hook in my Kenwood and then one day, I started kneading it myself. That's pretty much how I always do it now, i still use the Kenwood for very sticky doughs but mostly I knead by hand and what once seemed an impossible chore is now second nature and no trouble at all.

I make plenty of Irish breads too, using baking soda and buttermilk, their craggy exterior breaks open to a dense, chewy interior, best eaten warm with cold salted butter.

Sadly I have yet to perfect a recipe for Veda bread and it does not seem it will ever make it over the water, it remains ever a speciality of the North of Ireland. When my dad comes to visit, he is instructed to bring as many loaves as he can and you can bet he isn't the only one crossing the water with a bag filled with Veda bread. A dark malted loaf, no fruit, it is impossible to find the exact recipe but I'll keep trying, keep experimenting.

The bread pictured in this post is a White Soda Loaf, made following a recipe in the Rachel Allen book, Bake


dottycookie said…
I have a Norwegian lof in the oven, and olive flatbread proving and the sponge for a Dan Lepard loaf on the side in the kitchen. To say I'm a bread baking addict would be an understatement. Yours loooks truly scrumptious.
Flavaknits said…
We get (pathetically small but tasty none-the-less) malt loaf here in Scotland - Veda looks like a lovely big loaf though!
Home made bread of any type is the best though!
Cornflower said…
I've just eaten but I'd love some of your bread! My husband goes to Belfast on business now and again, so I shall ask him to look out for Veda bread so we can try it.
Jane said…
I love bread too, warm with butter and honey mmmm heaven! I have perfected bread in the Bread maker and during all that snow in January when no deliveries came to our small corner of the world my bread kept us going, though sadly Em can't eat it as she's gluten sensitive. Jane x
blackbird said…
Continue your search and who knows what you will find along the way. I'm waiting to hear more about this Veda bread.

Your loaf looks lovely and I think that I can, almost, smell it.
Amy said…
Ohhh homemade bread is just the best isn't it? I spent my summer holidays at my Dad's in Enniskillen, and always turned my nose up at soda bread! But when I moved to Belfast for Uni, I discovered all these delicious breads again & now I'm hooked. Veda bread was definitely my fave Sunday evening snack...yum!
Jane said…
Oh, how I love bread. I remember traveling to my grandmother's house in Connecticut where we would visit an old baker who made bread in an old brick oven. It was wonderful!
Hi I live in Co Armagh, you're right no one does bread like us!!Good old Veda, it's great. :)
Willow said…
The only fresh baked bread I ever tasted until I started making my own during the 70s was the rolls my grandmother made on special occasions. I still make Grandma's Rolls on holidays, but my favorite is now Honey Whole Wheat, kindly kneaded by The Professor.
Anonymous said…
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Elizabeth said…
A very apropo post for me.( you read my mind again, Rebecca) I made a Swedish Limpa this week and have a spelt poolish on the go for tomorrow. I had the Artisan Master Recipe in the fridge last week.
I have a little experiment going not eating(and therefore not baking) any sweets so I substituted bread baking to get my fix. Strangely as I am a sweet tooth, I don't miss eating sugar,but I really miss the baking!

You've got me very curious about the Veda!
Shelley in SC said…
Aaaah, homemade bread!! Sounds divine!
kristina said…
Oh that looks delicious! I certainly wouldn't last a day without bread!

Very intrigued by the Veda bread. And what do you think of the 'Five Minutes a Day' book?

K x
Georgins said…
That was so interesting! Reminded me of my London days and for me that special taste was Scofa bread, which I could bake in the Baby Belling in my bedsit and feel comforted even when I couldn't afford to do any of the exciting things Time Out promoted!
Gigi said…
Lovely, lovely bread! I had the very best sandwich of my life in Glendaloch, Ireland years ago. It was just simple ham and cheese on brown soda bread, but oh my, it was so very good. I got the bread recipe from the nice chef, but it just didn't taste the same when I tried to recreate here in the States -- guess our flour, etc. just isn't as good as that in Ireland ;-(. The ham & cheese were much tastier there too.
And I did Atkins for a while too and was very svelte ;-), but at what a price. I think the day I decided to give it up, I ate a whole loaf of bread!
And I looked up Rachel Allen's soda bread recipe. I'm going to try it today - thank you!
My personal bread baker (husband) makes the no-knead bread and it is fabulous! But any home-made bread is good. Lately however I have had trouble getting the middle of my soda bread to be done with the rest.
My personal bread baker (husband) makes the no-knead bread and it is fabulous! But any home-made bread is good. Lately however I have had trouble getting the middle of my soda bread to be done with the rest.
cathleen said…
Rebecca, I 'knead' some of this bread in my mouth right now. Seriously, your bread looks so delicious. Kneading bread might be good therapy for my hand once it's finally healed.
That does look good ! I must try to bake our bread on a regular basis , since I love the result so much . Soda bread is a good standby and like Georgins have fond memories of Scofa bread .
It always amuses me what we all schlep backwards and forwards over frontiers for relations who "live in exile". People bring me Marmite and Bovril and Christmas puddings , I take them peanut butter and licorice and Rookworst . Someone even sends me the occasional haggis .
kim said…
I love, love, love your posts. You manage to make a post about bread interesting and warm and inviting. It's funny because that was the line that always stuck in my head as a child - daily bread. I would not fair well on a low-carb diet. I have just made meatball/chicken/escarole soup to be shared with ciabotta rolls. Yummy!
Linda said…
I can smell the bread cooking from your post, just lovely.
Kai said…
Yum... :)

Since moving to Ollie and our own place, we've been making our own bread too. Ollie is the bread maker and he LOVES the kneading stage. I get to punch the dough though.. does that count?? :)
Kai said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
okay... just confirms the fact that we have SO much in common. just imagine... sitting around a kitchen. baking... drinking coffee (moving on to wine) knitting... chatting.... oh, HOW FUN!
Carolyn said…
How apposite this post is for me! Two and a half years of baguettes as our staple bread, and I REALLY do miss the bread we used to eat in the UK. I have recently bought some bread flour and yeast and am determined to have a go. I don't have a bread machine, or a Kenwood, but I think you've convinced me I could do it by hand. Thanks!

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