Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Famous Irish Avoca

Oh yes it is that time of the year again and we are off to Dublin in  less than 23 days time. I am so excited to meet old friends and walk the streets soaking in liquid sunshine. Hope to get less than last year. I am so looking forward to our trip to Avoca shop. I get something sweet every year. I don't actually have anything in mind but I always find something that I like to take home each and every year.

I have to admit that I am also a big fan of the business model as the whole story started some what back in  early 1720 with a mill at Avoca Village, County Wicklow. Originally set up in 1723 as a co-operative where farmers could spin and weave their wool, the Mill's uncoloured yarn was turned into tweeds and blankets. However, colour soon came to Avoca as vivid natural vegetable dyes in reds, greens, and yellows brightened the Mill's output. These were soon recognised as Avoca Handweavers' signature hues and the Mill thrived through the 1920s and 30s when it was run by a marvellous trio of sisters, the Wynnes.

By the 1960s however, it had fallen silent.Later rescued by  Donald and Hilary Pratt  a Dublin lawyer and wife. Donald left law and Hilary gave up her teaching job as they took over the leaking Mill and empty order book. But soon the looms were humming again and Avoca began to colour the world once more.

There are 10 Avoca stores through out the country still my favorite is the one on Suffolk street in Dublin city centre.If you happen to visit the shop pay some attention to the windows as they are lovely feast for the eye! The colors are so so so balmy. The last time I was there they were dressed elegantly with autumn scenes. Lifelike manikins posing in a lifelike garden  in wellies and layered Anthology clothing all decorated with signature twinkle lights. Inside and always expending and changing items of fashion,home, beauty and jewelry extravaganza  not to mention the lovely food hall and restaurant where you can sample gorgeous Irish food.

Here is my  afternoon delight to you. The recipe of the mouthwateringly good Irish Avoca Cafe Brown Bread. Enjoy!

The famous Irish Avoca Cafe Brown Bread


200g White flour
300g Course brown flour
3 handfuls bran
2 handfuls wheatgerm
2 tsp baking powder
1 level tsp salt
1 dessertspoon treacle
600 - 900ml milk
sesame seeds, for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 200C/Fan 180C. Generously oil a large loaf pan. Dust it with dried breadcrumbs if available. If not use some flour.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl by hand. From this on use a wooden spoon. Add the treacle and gradually stir in enough milk to give the batter a "moist but not sloppy" texture.
Turn the batter into the prepared pan and shake to level. If you are ready put it in the oven for 6 to 20 mins, keeping an eye on the bread to see when it has risen. When it has risen reduce the heat to 160C and continue to bake for another hour.
Run a knife around the inner edges of the pan to loosen the bread and ease it out. If, when tapped on the bottom the bread sounds hollow, its done. Otherwise place it back in the oven just on the rack without its pan, and bake a bit more, until it passes the "hollow test", about 10 to 15 mins.
Slice to serve when look warm serve with jam or my personal favorite paté with wild berries.

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