Sunday, 15 March 2009

Irish Freckle Bread

I’m celebrating St. Patrick's Day by making Irish Freckled Bread. It is referred to as freckled bread because of the raisins or currants that are sprinkled throughout.

This particular recipe uses yeast rather than baking soda and potato water rather than buttermilk. It produces a very tender and flavorful loaf due to the combination of mashed potato, potato water, and eggs. It is great for toast and freezes well.

Irish Freckle Bread Recipe
Makes: 2 medium loaves
From Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads 

  • 1 potato, peeled and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 5 cups bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup dark raisins or currants


Preparation: 30 - 40 minutes

Grease 2 medium (8 1/2" -x- 4 1/2") loaf pans.

In a pot, boil the potato in the water for 20 to 30 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the water (120° - 130°) and put the potato aside to cool before mashing it.

By Hand or Mixer: 5 minutes

Pour 1 1/2 cups flour in the mixing bowl and add the potato, yeast, sugar, and salt. Pour in the cup of potato water and beat until a smooth batter.

First Rising: 1 - 1 1/2 hours

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough aside to rise and become puffy, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Kneading: 10 minutes

Stir down the batter and add the eggs, butter, and raisins. Stir to mix thoroughly.
Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make a soft, elastic ball of dough. Don't add too much flour - the dough should be quite soft. If it is sticky, add sprinkles of flour. Knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion until the dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Knead for an equal length of time if using a mixer dough hook.

Shaping: 15 minutes

There are two different ways to form Freckle Bread. For both the dough is divided into 4 pieces and allowed to rest for 5 minutes before shaping.

The first method is to roll each piece lengthwise into a cylinder as long as the bread pan. It will be about 2" in diameter. Repeat with a second, and place the 2 pieces side by side in the pan. They will rise together and present a divided crust down the length of the loaf.

The second loaf can be formed in the same fashion, or the pieces can be shaped into balls and placed side by side. They will rise together to look like two half loaves.

Second Rising: 45 minutes

Cover with wax paper and leave in a warm place to rise to the edge of the pans, about 45 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat: Preheat the oven to 375°F 20 minutes before baking.

Baking Time: 35 minutes

Place the pans in the oven and bake until the crusts are nicely browned, 35 minutes. Turn one loaf out of its pan and tap the bottom crust with a forefinger. A hard, hollow sound means the bread is baked. If not, return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. (If using a convection oven, reduce heat to 50°.)

Final Step

Remove the bread from the oven and place the loaves on a wire rack until cooled.

Then slice and enjoy!

This Irish Freckle Bread tastes great and it toasts beautifully although I couldn't wait to toast it. I just ate the end piece plain and it was wonderful!

Happy Baking!

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