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All About Food: Baking a good first impression

All About Food: Baking a good first impression

This dill and poppy seed bread is perfect with salmon

HELLO and welcome to all about food. I often think this column is as much about keeping in with the in-laws (or potential in-laws) as it is about recipes – judging by the steady flow emails I receive every week! Of course I am delighted to help so keep those queries coming!

Ask Gingergirl

Hello Gingergirl,

My boyfriend’s mother is coming to visit us in our new home shortly and I want to make a good impression! I know she is a fan of fish and in particular smoked salmon. Do you have any tasty lunch recipes I could try?

Thank you in advance,


Hello Tracey,

I think the secret is to keep it simple. As I’m sure you know, we are very lucky to have some of the best quality smoked salmon available to us in Ireland, therefore, I think on this occasion it is best to compliment the flavour of the salmon rather than compete with it. This dill and poppy seed bread is perfect with salmon; the dill being a classic herb for fish and the nutty flavour and texture of the poppy seed makes a perfect marriage! Feel free to make this bread the day before and serve on a platter with the salmon, watercress salad, some cream cheese, lemon wedges and pickled cucumber (see below for recipe).

Dill & Poppy Seed Bread

400ml of buttermilk

350g of plain flour

140g of wholemeal flour

50g of chilled butter

1 teaspoon of caster sugar

2 teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

a handful of fresh dill leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons of poppy seeds

Heat the oven to 200ºc and put a flat baking sheet in the oven to heat. Tip the flours into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients and the dill, then make a well in the centre and pour in 350ml of the buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, draw the dry ingredients into the wet to make a very soft, sticky dough. Add the rest of the liquid if you think the dough is too dry. Be careful not to overwork the dough as this will make your loaf tough.

Lightly flour the work surface and tip the dough onto it. With floured hands, roughly shape into a round. Sprinkle a little flour over the hot baking sheet, then lift the dough onto it. Lightly press the dough down, making a flattened, round loaf about an inch deep. Using a butter knife, make a cross deeply into the top of the dough.

Bake for 25-30 mins until well-risen and deep golden. To test the bread is cooked, give the loaf a tap on the bottom - it should sound hollow. Cool for a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to fully cool. To serve, cut into quarters along the lines of the cross and slice.

Pickled cucumber

Mix 300g of very thinly sliced cucumber (I use a mandolin for transparently thin slices) and one very thinly sliced small onion in a large bowl. Add 125g of sugar with a generous pinch of salt and 75ml of white wine vinegar and mix well. Leave for at least one hour to allow the flavours to develop.

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