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Brigid's Kitchen

Updated on January 25, 2015

recipes for Brigid's Day and Imbolc

Traditional food for Brigid's Day, for Imbolc, mainly works with the ingredients of oats, wheat flour, milk, butter, buttermilk, eggs, along with yeast or baking soda for leavening, spices for flavouring, and dried fruit, honey and sugar for sweatening.

In this feature I will share the simple traditional recipes I know and use, and all these can be made in an open hearth fire too.

I will also share how these foods connect to the traditions, faith and guidance of all we call Bride and Brigid from goddess to saint, to teacher, to guide.

for when Brigid visits and blesses us

Saint Brigid is told of in tales as being a woman of service who travelled around Erin blessing households wherever she went.

As a child I was told stories of Brigid being accompanied by a white cow with red ears.

We were told to always be prepared to make Brigid welcome by being ready with some bread and fresh butter, home made butter if possible, on an outside windowsill, together with some wheat, barley or oat grains for her cow. Also we had to remember to lay down a mat of rushes for Brigid to safely kneel down on while she blessed our home.

I am going to start here with some recipes for breads that you may put out for Brigid, but you only need to put a slice or two out.

The rest of your bread you should have available for friends who may also pass by. Especially have a thought and provide some generosity through sharing some of your food with those near you who do not have any.

Brigid's Butter

Actually, as far as I know, there is no special recipe called "Brigid's Butter" but to really celebrate and serve the symbolism of Brigid and her high yield cows I think it is fair to make our own butter, at least for this day.

Butter is actually incredibly simple to make. It takes between 10 to 15 minutes to make between 6 oz and a pound of butter.

You will need some thick cream, double cream or whipping cream and leave it out at room temperature for an hour. Room temperature should be between 50 F to 70 F or between 10 C and 22 C.

The warmer the room temperature is the quicker you will make butter.

Do not try to simulate a warm room with trying to slightly heat up your cream in a saucepan or within steam heater and that will mess up the cream's make up.

You should find that a pint of cream makes about 5 or 6 oz of butter and will leave you with a good cup full of buttermilk for your bread making recipes, such as using those below here.

There are two ways to make butter from room temperature cream

The quick way is to use a mixer of food processor with a whisk attachment. Pour the cream into the mixer bowl and set the whisk to medium or medium high and let it whisk for 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure the whisk and bowl are covered. If the appliance does not have a cover, get a cloth over it to prevent splatter all over the kitchen.

What you will see is the butter separate from the buttermilk, the curds and whey. You will definitely know through watching when the process is complete.

The slow way, but quite traditional way, is to pour your room temperature cream into a large jar such as an empty and washed mayonnaise, pickle or pickled onion jar, seal it tight, and then rigorously keep shaking it. After 3 or 4 minutes the cream turns into thicker and seemingly heavier cream that gets a little harder to shake. After 6 minutes it may seem nothing is moving, then after 7 or 8 minutes the buttermilk starts to separate and after about 10 minutes you have your butter and buttermilk separated, and a good arm workout too.

A tradition was to give children the jar of cream and they would roll it to each other as a game until the curds and whey separated..

  • Pour your contents from mixing bowl or jar into a fairly fine strainer sieve over a container to collect the buttermilk.
  • Set aside the buttermilk for recipe use.
  • Over your sink, rinse the butter curds with a jug of home filtered water.

On a clean cutting board use a spatula, preferably two spatulas, wooden ones work best, stir, pat and bind the curds into a block of butter. If you are going to salt your butter this is the time to do it, but I like to keep mine unsalted for taste, heart care and easier salt measurement in recipes. This patting and binding only takes a couple of minutes.

Then you can wrap your butter in greaseproof paper and put it into an airtight storage container. This is perfect butter to spread on your Brigid Breads.

The Buttermilk saved is also a good ingredient for the bread recipes calling for buttermilk below. To make it more active in baking it also needs a spoonful or two of yoghurt, and if you have home made yoghurt to add as well, then that is the best, of course.

Brigid's Herb Butters

This is actually my own invention based on thoughts of Brigid's relationship to dairy, nutrition and healing, and plants being an important part of the nourishment and healing.

I have a passion about using culinary herbs in my own cooking, especially in breads and butters, and especially garlic when i can get away with it.

I like herb butters a lot, so lets run through some herbs you can add to your home made butter that not only add satisfying aromatic flavours but can enhance how our bodies function ...

thyme

Excellent digestion supporter and is strongly antimicrobial. This means thyme is great for removing parasites in our digestive tract such as unhelpful bacteria, fungi and even worms. Its nutrition also reaches the lungs and can loosen mucous and any gunk sitting in the lungs.

sage

Another digestion supporter, especially for reducing and even alleviating the symptoms within anyone with allergies, and a huge digestion aid of fats. Sage is cooling in the body, and antioxidant. All these benefits are calming too and add to that contentment after a meal. Another good herb for encouraging release of mucous

rosemary

Is calming, a tonic and a purifier. Your liver will love you for consuming rosemary. It's a great all round toxin remover through body and mind, and can reduce and relieve migraines too. Use sparingly is you are on heart or blood pressure medications and not at all if you are pregnant. For those with epilepsy, unfortunately rosemary can trigger off seizures. For everyone else rosemary is a very happy herb.

oregano

Is strongly antibacterial and antioxidant and is almost like an entire medicine chest in a plant. Very powerful predator of infections and parasites. Most important, its aroma is pleasing to most people.

basil

Another happy herb, very calming. Also somewhat antibacterial and its properties can serve great cleaning within the kidneys and urinary tracts.

fennel

Calming, cooling and great for settling down an anxiety tummy. Greatly helps to release wind, be warned. Is also diuretic so a great cleanser for the kidneys and urinary tract.

parsley

Well known as a diuretic and toxin remover. One of the most power herbs for keeping our kidneys and urinary tract in good cleansed working order

garlic

Known as a powerful medicine chest plant for thousands of years. Well known as an aid for reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and as an immune stimulant to help prevent colds and flu. Garlic is full of sulphur compounds which makes it powerful as an antibiotic, anti-viral and internal fungicide.

onion

Really onion is a ditto of garlic. Garlic maybe more powerful as an immune stimulant but onion has the edge with fructo-oligosaccharides. These are compounds shown to stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria. Bifido suppresses the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.

This is just a few of the herbs and veggies you can mix with your home made butter to make it more interesting, stimulating and even healthier.

These herbs are also great for adding with your breads and vegetables when you have the opportunity too, are all very easy to grow even in windowsill plants and window boxes.

For more profound uses, use these herbs in steam baths. These being herbs and hot water in a bowl with a cloth over your head, a sort of mini sweat lodge for the head.

Oats, the oats in Oatmeal, porridge, is now a well known food food for being healthy for the heart, the blood and for fertility. It is one of the best foods for pregnant women and for newborn infants starting on solids. Modern healthy food "experts" delight at describing Oats as a Power Food.

This Brigid Oaten Bread recipe is really the standard traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread recipe but with an emphasis on including oats along with your wheat flour and maybe other flours.

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 20 min
  • Ready in: 30 min
  • Yields: 6

Ingredients

  • 4 oz or 120 grams wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of any sugar
  • optional spices - nutmeg cinnamon allspice
  • optional 2 oz or 50 grams dried fruit - currants raisins etc.
  • honey
  • golden syrup or molases
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or 2 tablespoons of crushed dulse
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 oz or 90 grams uncooked oat flakes
  • 1 egg or egg substitute
  • 8 fl oz or 240 ml buttermilk
  • optional toppings of nuts
  • seeds
  • and even quinoa

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F or 220 C.
  2. Grease a baking sheet.
  3. In a large bow, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt or crushed dulse plus your honey, sugar or choice of sweetener.
  4. Also and any spices and dried fruit, and even fresh cut apples, you may fancy but this is all optional
  5. Cut up your cold butter into small pea size bits and rub with the mixture until crumbly.
  6. Add oats and mix in well.
  7. Beat the egg or egg substitute with the buttermilk in a separate bowl.
  8. Make a "well" in the big bow ingredients.
  9. Pour in the egg and buttermilk mixture and mix all with a fork until crumbly again.
  10. Form the dough into a ball and knead on a floured surface for no more than 5 minutes.
  11. Add flour if the dough is still too sticky to work with but still keep the mix this side of sticky.
  12. Form the doughball into an 8 inch round
  13. Transfer it to the baking sheet.
  14. Score a deep cross into the bread but do not cut through.
  15. You may cut the shape of a Brigid's Cross with a centre square.
  16. You may top this with a little butter milk brushed over the top
  17. then sprinkle your choice of seeds or nuts, optional,
  18. such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, oats, chopped nuts and quinoa.
  19. Bake for about twenty minutes, or until medium brown.
  20. Test with knife in the dough until it comes out clean.
  21. If you made the bread the day before Brigid's Day or Imbolc and cut a Brigid's Cross shape into the bread, you could separate the 4 sections for serving to visitors and family then. The middle square could then be saved for offering to Brigid that night.
  22. try a different shape
  23. Some people split the dough ball into three balls, then roll each ball into a long sausage shape, lay them side by side on a backing tray, then curve the left sausage shape to the left and curve the right sausage shape to the right to form the bread into a trinity style fleur de lis sheaf shape.
  24. You could take this further by carving indentations along each sausage to give the impression of several stalks of wheat and even put a little dough aside to put three bands across them to look like three sheaf ties.
  25. Let your imagination run away with this, but do not take too long of the leavening action between the buttermilk and baking soda will become weak.
Cast your vote for Brigid's Oaten Bread - quick bread version

Imbolc Barm Brack - quick version

Barm brack, báirín breac, is a traditional Irish tea bread. It is a slightly sweet fruit bread with raisins, currants, sultanas, and candied citrus peel. It is served toasted and generously buttered, accompanied by a cup of tea.

In Ireland, Barm Brack is a traditional bread for both Samhain, (Halloween) and for Imbolc (Brigid's Day).

Regarding its name, Breac is definitely bread, but there is unclarity regarding Bairin, now Barm, referring either to yeast, its leavining ability when baked or the specled caused by the fruit inside.

This quick recipe is Barm Brack leavened with baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast, which takes longer to prepare, though the yeasted loaves can keep fresh longer.

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 1 hour 10 min
  • Ready in: 1 hour 20 min
  • Yields: 6 to 10 people

Ingredients

  • 8 oz or 230 grams brown sugar or honey
  • 1 lb. or 450 grams sultanas raisins currents and dried peel in proportions you enjoy
  • 2 tsp. mixed spices such as nutmeg cinnamon allspice and ground cloves
  • 1 cupful of strong tea
  • 8 oz or 230 grams.plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder or baking soda
  • 1 lb bread tin

Instructions

  1. Essential for making Barm Brack is soaking the dried fruit over night in the strong tea liquid with the spices. This makes the dried fruit softer and more appealing. Care is needed when mixing the dough, though as the rehydrated fruit will break up and speckle the cake.
  2. What I do is use another clean bowl and add the flour.
  3. Before anything else turn on the over to pre-heat to 350 degrees F or 170 C
  4. I whip up the egg and add that, or egg substitute
  5. then the sugar or honey
  6. then the baking powder or baking soda
  7. I carefully strain the tea liquid from the fruit into a jug
  8. and pour that slowly into the flour, egg and sweetener mixture
  9. stirring as a go until the mix is quite sticky.
  10. I then slowly and carefully fold in the fragile hydrated fruit
  11. and the final mix should be sticky like a cake mis, but maybe a little stiffer
  12. but not as stiff as bread mix.
  13. I pour and spoon the mix into a 1lb bread tin that I pre-grease with oil or butter
  14. then pat it down in the bread tin/pan
  15. Alternatively, you could use a 7" round baking tin.
  16. Pop into your pre-heated oven and bake for 80 minutes
  17. though check after 50 and 60 minutes to see how the baking is progressing
  18. and test for stickiness with a knife through the middle.
  19. With this bread a slight stickiness is ok as it will finish baking while cooling
  20. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes
  21. and serve with home made butter, if you can, and hot tea.
  22. If you wish to serve toasted, allow at least 1 hour to cool down on the rack,
  23. and toast with an oven grill rather than toaster.
  24. To toast with a toaster you will have to leave the Brack for at least two hours.

Imbolc Barm Brack - slow version

This is much like the quick version Barm Brack but this time we make a yeast leavened bread and we make it in a round cake tin, preferably one with spring release sides.

This will probably be the more popular of the two types of Brack, if you served both but needs more time and planning.

  • Cook time: 2 hours 30 min
  • Ready in: 2 hours 30 min
  • Yields: 6 to 10

Ingredients

  • 8 oz or 230 grams brown sugar or honey
  • 1 lb. or 450 grams sultanas raisins currents and dried peel in proportions you enjoy
  • 2 tsp. mixed spices such as nutmeg cinnamon allspice and ground cloves
  • 1 cupful of strong tea
  • 4 fl oz or 120 ml of luke warm milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 8 oz or 230 grams.plain flour
  • 1 tsp heaped of more mixed spices like nutmeg cinnamon allspice ground cloves
  • 2 oz or 50 grams of sugar or honey or golden syrup
  • 2 oz or 50 grams butter or spread
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preparation and overnight storage of dried fruit, spices and tea are the same as for the quick method.
  2. The following day, first make your yeast mixture.
  3. Mix your yeast and sugar in a jug and slowly add the luke warm milk,
  4. cover with a cloth and allow to rise for about 15 minutes,
  5. which can be shorter or longer just keep an eye on it.
  6. Meanwhile in another bowl sift the flour, add the additional spices,
  7. rub in the sugar, honey or golden syrup
  8. and rub in the butter or spread.
  9. Make a well pit in the middle of this pit and pour in the raised yeast mixture
  10. Stir the dry mixture into the liquid in the middle slowly with a woooden spoon.
  11. As it becomes thick and elastic add a little of the tea mixture separated from the fruit
  12. until it is sticky, then slowly and carefully stir in the fruit.
  13. Leave to rise for an hour in a warm place covered with a damp cloth.
  14. The mixture should double in size.
  15. Gently kneed the dough in the bowl,
  16. but not as aggressive as with regular bread
  17. as you do not want to break up the fragile fruit.
  18. Place into a large cake tin, preferably the spring release type
  19. and let the mixture rise for a further 30 minutes in a warm place covered with a damp cloth
  20. Now turn on your oven to pre-heat to 400 F or 200 C
  21. so it is ready in 30 minutes time.
  22. After that 30 minutes rising
  23. place the cake tin and dough into the pre-heated oven
  24. and bake for 45 minutes
  25. also checking with a knife to see that it comes out dry, not sticky.
  26. Leave to cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes
  27. Serve just like the quick version with home made butter if possible,
  28. toasted under a grill if left for an hour
  29. and in a toaster if left two hours or more.

Boxty Cakes

Not a Brigid or Imbolc tradition directly. However, this is close to the times of celebration of Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Fat Tuesday, Carnivale, and Mardi Gras which are all founded on using up and feasting on the last of the milk, flour, fats and eggs stored over the winter ready to fast and then feed on the new foods of this year.

Imbolc, Imbolg, has some connection to this. Being in Ireland, these days it can mean using up some of the winter stored potatoes as well.

Boxty Cakes are a wonderful breakfast pancake-bread variation in Ireland that is welcome at this cool and very busy time of the year when the soild is being prepared again and there is a lot of management with farm animals, especially new born.

Boxty can be eaten with any meal such as with savoury stuffings and side salads or grilled veggies. I like mine first thing in the morning with some eggs and home made baked beans made with white beans, tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, olive oil, cider vinegar and honey, maybe a side of mushrooms too.

  • Prep time: 15 min
  • Cook time: 15 min
  • Ready in: 30 min
  • Yields: 12 cakes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz or 230 grams mashed potatoes
  • 8 oz or 230 grams grated raw potatoes
  • 8 oz or 230 grams flour
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 12 fl. oz or 350 ml buttermilk
  • butter for frying
  • salt and pepper and maybe herbs for taste

Instructions

  1. Make the mashed potatoes the day before, if you can. Ideally they should be left over from a meal the day before. Overnight they stiffen up and are not watery like fresh made mashed potatoes.
  2. Grate your raw potatoes fresh, though.
  3. In a large bowl add and mix up the mashed potatoes, raw grated potatoes,
  4. flour and baking soda.
  5. Add salt and pepper and any desired herbs to taste.
  6. Mix well and slowly add enough buttermilk to make a quite stiff batter.
  7. Shape the stiff batter into 3 inch diameter patties that are about 1/4 inch thick.
  8. Pre-heat your griddle or frying pan, add butter to melt quickly.
  9. Fry your Boxty patties until crispy and golden on both sides.
  10. Then serve.
  11. Alternatively, can be part done in bulk on a tray in the oven at 200 to 220 C
  12. then finished off in the griddle to make them crispy and brown.
  13. Serve as a side with your choice of vegetables, eggs and meats.

do you, or will you, cook for Brighid's Day?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Love the recipes, much thanks. Just a note though, curds and whey are from cheese making - curds being what cheese is made with and whey being the liquid that is drained off the curds. Butter making as you noted, produces butter and buttermilk.