Donal Skehan

Auntie Ann’s Banana Bread

Banana Bread-1 copy

This recipe comes from my auntie Ann who spent a lot of time in America over the years and has picked up some really great US inspired recipes. This banana bread is deliciously moist and is extremely easy to throw together. You can add a little sliced banana on top before it goes into the oven or sprinkle some nuts or even stir some chopped nuts or chocolate chips through the batter!

Makes 8 mini loaves or 1 large loaves
110g butter
190g caster sugar
2 large eggs
240g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 large bananas

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Cream the sugar and the butter in a bowl with a hand held mixer until light and pale. Add in one egg and a little flour and mix through, repeat with the other egg and the rest of flour and baking soda, until everything is mixed through and smooth.

Peel the bananas and mash them with the back of a fork.  Add them to the bowl with the vanilla extract and mix through. Pour the mix into a well greased loaf tin and place in an oven for approximately 50 minutes. You can cover it with tinfoil after 25 minutes to stop it browning too much on top if you need too. Insert a metal skewer into the centre of the loaf and if it comes out clean the banana bread is ready.  Remove from the loaf tin and place on a wire rack to cool. Enjoy with a big cuppa!

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Sofie’s Rocket and Feta Cheese Bread

This is a really healthy tasty bread with a really different filling. It makes a fantastic addition to any picnic basket and is wonderfully moist.

Makes 1 large loaf
3 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of honey
600ml lukewarm water
125g oat flakes
Approx 500g wholegrain flour
2 large handfuls of rocket
200g feta cheese
A good handful of fresh herbs of your choice.
A good handful of green olives roughly chopped.

Put the yeast in a bowl, and mix it with the salt and honey, add half of the water and let the yeast dissolve. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes or until it has become frothy. Add the rest of the water and mix the oats and flour into the bowl. With a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients until a dough forms. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoon of flour over the dough and leave it for an hour and a half. While the dough is rising, in a bowl mix together the rocket, feta, herbs and olives.

Preheat the oven to 225°C and dust a baking tray 30x40cm with flour. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide in two. Roll out both halves into equal shaped oval pieces. Put the first piece on the baking tray. Sprinkle the rocket, feta cheese, herbs and olives evenly over the dough. Gently put the second piece of dough over the filling and squeeze the edges so that they are sealed.

Place the bread in the oven for 30 minutes or until it is nicely browned. When the bread is cooked leave it to cool on a wire rack before serving.

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Irish Brown Yeast Bread

This has to be one of the easiest bread recipes in the world with no kneading it’s a no brainer! The loaf can be frozen and defrosted when needed and is the perfect accompaniment to a hearty soup or made into a chunky sandwich. For anyone hooked on white bread this is a really healthy alternative and you can also add rolled oats sprinkled on top for an extra crunch.

Makes one loaf
450g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 7g sachet dried yeast
1 teaspoon treacle
445ml warm water
A small handful of mixed seeds

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Dissolve the treacle in the warm water and add to the dry mix. With a large spoon combine the ingredients until it forms a wet mixture. Turn the mixture into an oiled and floured loaf tin, sprinkle with seeds and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel. Place in a warm spot to allow the yeast to do its work for approx 20 minutes and then cook in the oven for about 45-50 minutes.

You will know when the loaf is done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow. The bread is quite moist and will last for anything up to a week, you can store it in an airtight container. It also freezes brilliantly for up to a month, so you could also make a few extra to save for later.

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Chunky Garlic Bread

You can use any bread for this really, but try and pick a loaf with a chunky crust. The bread on the inside will stay nice and soft and you will be left with a crunchy crust. I love garlic and have used four cloves here, but reduce the amount if don’t want to be warding off vampires for the next week!

Serves 4
1 loaf of wholemeal bread
5 tablespoons of butter at room temperature
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A large handful of freshly chopped parsley
A pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 200oC/390oF/Gas 6.

Slice the bread into slices being careful not to cut the whole way through and set aside.  The slices should all still be joined at the bottom.  Mash the butter, salt, garlic and parsley together on a chopping board with the back of a fork.  When the ingredients are combined scoop up the garlic butter and slather the slices on the inside.  Don’t be afraid to get messy here, if there’s butter on the crust all the better!

Wrap the loaf in tinfoil leaving the tops of the slices exposed.  You can also sprinkle the tops of the slices with a little grated Parmesan cheese at this point. Place the wrapped loaf in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and crisp on top.

Serve piping hot!  If you can’t get through a whole loaf in one go, freeze the slices individually and pop them in the toaster when you want to reheat them!

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