Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

What's the secret to a good brown bread? Four finalists battle it out at National Ploughing Championships

Aideen Sheehan and Jason Kennedy

Taoiseach Enda Kenny made a surprise appearance at the final of the National Brown Bread Baking Competition.

Tipperary woman Betty Williams won the coveted award after a final bake-off against three highly-skilled bakers from all over the country.

Ms Williams from Clonmel said she was astounded at her success.

She has been baking for 50 years but took it up in earnest four years ago when it helped her through a very difficult period in her life.

"I love baking and I love making things for people, but I never expected to win something like this," she said.

"The secret of success in baking is a hot oven'" she said.

"I would always say that brown bread is easy to make. You must have a hot oven when you put in your bread. I more or less stick to the traditional brown flour, white flour, a bit of grain, butter and the buttermilk. Put it into an oven for about an hour."

The Taoiseach said she should sign a contract to supply the Tipperary team with brown bread to feed them going into their hurling final replay.

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He arrived just as the winner of the Aldi sponsored competition was being announced live on TV3.

Ms Williams wins €2,000 worth of Aldi vouchers.

Between 700 to 800 samples of bread were entered into the competition, and four were shortlisted.

Irish Countrywomen's Association President Liz Wall said: "We were absolutely inundated with bread and the standard was extremely high. It was very difficult for the judges right through the whole competition," she said.

We caught up with the three other finalists to get their top tips for a good batch of brown bread.

Margaret Jennings:

"Keep it simple. Brown bread should be brown bread. Just put the ingredients together and throw it in the oven with a bit of buttermilk and it's lovely. For me, i just love making brown bread and I never had a recipe for it. I just kept adding little pieces to it and it works."

Margaret Kelly:

"I go with the old traditional ways. When I do it at home, i just throw in a few cups of flour and a few cups of wheaten meal, a teaspoon of bread soda, some salt and buttermilk. Mix it up, put in the oven for 200 degrees and leave it for an hour if it's a medium sized cake.

Statia Ivers:

"My number one rule would be to have a good hot oven. Then put some egg, oil and a little butter in the mix. I also like to put some honey in it. That's your oyster!"

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