Top hints and tips ahead of this year’s National Brown Bread Baking Competition

by Alison O'Hanlon
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As bakers across the country gear up for the highly anticipated National Brown Bread Baking Competition, this year’s sponsors Euronics has revealed some of the best hints, tips, and recipes to help bakers create the perfect loaf. 

This year’s competition, in association with the National Ploughing Association (NPA) and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA), promises not only glory but also a fantastic first prize (€5,000 cash prize and a NEFF Slide & Hide oven).

To help get started, Euronics has revealed its top tips to help bakers take home the coveted title this year!

Key baking tips for perfect brown bread:

  • Use fresh ingredients: Ensure your flour, bread soda and other ingredients are fresh for the best rise and flavour.
  • Perfect baking temperature: Preheat your oven to the recommended temperature. A hot oven ensures your bread rises well and forms a crusty exterior.
  • Tap, tap, tap: Tap the bottom of the loaf; a hollow sound indicates it’s done. Alternatively, use a thermometer; bread is done when the internal temperature reaches around 200°F (93°C).
  • Get creative: Stand out from the competition and put a spin on a traditional loaf. Whether it’s cheese, pumpkin seeds, bacon, raisins or cranberries, add a touch of something different so that your loaf will stand out amongst the competition.

NEFF Culinary Manager Eleanor Martin shared her favourite brown bread recipe:

Wholemeal seeded soda bread – Makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients:

1 tbsp molasses

375-400ml buttermilk

450g extra coarse stone-ground wholemeal flour 

100g plain flour

80g mixed seeds. Use a mix of pumpkin, flax, sunflower, sesame, poppy or chia seeds

1½ tsp bread soda (sieved)

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp oats (optional)

Method – Preheat oven to 220⁰C bread baking with medium added steam (NEFF oven specific).

  • Line the universal pan with nonstick paper.
  • Add the molasses to the buttermilk and mix really well until the molasses has dissolved.
  • In a large bowl combine the flours and seeds, then sieve in the bread soda and salt. Mix all the dry ingredients together then make a well in the centre.
  • Add about ¾ of the buttermilk and molasses to the dry ingredients and gently mix, adding more liquid a little at a time until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Don’t over mix as this will make your bread tough.
  • Tip the dough out onto a floured surface. Use your hands to smooth it into a round, then turn it over onto the baking sheet. Using a sharp knife cut a cross about 1cm deep in the dough. Sprinkle with oats if using. 
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180⁰C for a further 25-30 minutes. The base of the bread should sound hollow when tapped. If necessary turn the bread upside-down and give it another 5 minutes.  
  • Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Best served fresh. 

If you think you have the recipe for success, log onto https://www.neff-home.com/ie/brown-bread-comp or www.ica.ie for information on how to enter and for full terms, conditions and competition rules.

Full list of drop off locations around the country are as follows:

Friday 19th July from 09.00am – 11.00am

  • TJ O’Mahony Prosperous, 3 Lime Drive, Ladytown , Naas, Co. Kildare, W91P682
  • Grange Baldoyle, Unit 48G, Baldoyle Ind Est, Baldoyle, Co. Dublin, D13 KR76 
  • Mastercare, 164 Howth Road, Clontarf West, Killester, D03 V820
  • Heavins, A1& A2 Shannon Retail Park, Dublin Road, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, N37 E763

Friday 26th July from 09.00am – 11.00am

  • Bandon Co-Op, Kilbrogan, Bandon, Co Cork, P72 X275
  • Jack Fitzgerald Electrical, Howley’s Quay, Lower Shannon Street, Co. Limerick, V94 W295
  • Joyce & Sons, Galway Road, Cuilleen, Headford, Co. Galway, H91 A9X7 

Friday 2nd August from 09.00 – 11.00am

  • Redmond Electric, Unit 6, WFC Retail Park, The Avenue, Gorey, Co Wexford, Y25 K773 
  • Keans Claremorris, Mount Street, Clare, Claremorris, Co. Mayo, F12 Y642 
  • Brodericks Westport, 5 Castlebar Road, Westport, Co. Mayo 
  • Harrys Electrical, 2 Moynehall Retail Park, Ballinagh Road, Co. Cavan, H12 HP64 

Featured Image: Pictured at BSH Home of Innovation for the launch of the National Brown Bread Baking Competition, sponsored by Euronics in association with NPA and ICA are Anna May McHugh (NPA Managing Director), Mary D’Arcy (incoming ICA National President), Robert Kennedy (Euronics)


Photo: Gareth Chaney

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