Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dilleasc Bread – wet ankles optional!

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A little slice of heaven...

If you want to watch Europe’s last sunset splash down in the Atlantic every evening simply book a ticket to Achill on Ireland’s West coast. The play of light in the skies is breathtaking as the weather shifts minute by minute.

Watch Europe's last sunset about to splash down in the Atlantic

Achill is the place for edible seaweeds and you’ll see bags of Carrageen Moss and Dilleasc for sale throughout the island. Just don’t make the mistake of telling the locals that you actually paid good money for the stuff.  There is an ancient saying directed at such rash behaviour. It goes something like “Hahahahahahha – what sort of a big eeeeejit are ya!” Apparently the proper way to acquire seaweed is to “hitch up your skirts” and get your ankles wet. Brrrrr. Way! Too! Cold!

Dried dilleasc - stone age crisps from Achill

I bought dilleasc (dulse) which is widely available throughout the world. Dilleasc has been eaten as a salty snack since ancient times. It contains beta carotene , a natural antiviral, and is an excellent vegetarian source of B12 and Iron. If you are not in a position to hitch up your skirts and harvest it from the shore with your own fair hands, you can usually buy it dried.
For dilleasc crisps, spread the dried seaweed out on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes at 180°C, until crunchy. Better still, whizz some of baked seaweed in a food processor with some coarse sea salt for a condiment with a peculiarly addictive savouriness.

Sprinkle on a taste of the sea...

I made a dilleasc yeast bread to go with smoked salmon. It tastes of the sea and is wonderful with chowder yet not too savoury to be made into toast and drizzled with honey.

For a 2lb loaf you will need...
250g strong white (bread) flour
60g wholemeal flour
70g oatmeal
1 teaspoon fine table salt
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
250mls fresh milk at room temperature
80mls water at room temperature 
1 cup loosely packed dilleasc (dulse)

Preheat the oven to 200°C at step 4
1.               Mix together the first six ingredients. Then, add in the sugar, milk and water stirring until there is no dry flour left and the mixture comes together in a soft sticky dough. Cover and place in a warm, draft-free spot for between 12 and 18 hours. It should smell beery and be full of bubbles and doubled in size.
2.               Meanwhile, soak the dilleasc in fresh cold water. After about 20 minutes it will be soft. Rinse, squeeze out any excess water, and finely chop.
3.               Sprinkle the chopped dilleasc onto the risen dough. Then, holding the bowl in one hand, use the other, lightly floured, to mix just long enough to distribute the dilleasc throughout the dough. The dough will deflate alarmingly – it’s supposed to. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured 2lb loaf tin. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to rise again for between 1 and 2 hours in a warm, draft-free place, until almost doubled in size.
4.               Pre-heat the oven to 220°C and put a deep baking dish on the bottom shelf. Carefully pour boiling water from the kettle to a depth of about 2cm. It will evaporate as the loaf bakes, creating a crispy crust.
5.               Bake the loaf for 30 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Turn it out of the tin and check that the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If not, pop it back in the oven for a further 5 minutes (without the tin) then test again.
If you make the dilleasc condiment I mentioned earlier, you could sprinkle a little over the top before baking.
Note: I’ve adapted my recipe to Jim Lahey’s ‘no knead’ slow fermentation method because it uses less yeast than the usual quick rise.  
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  1. I love that ancient Irish saying!!! I'd be buying the seaweed too - hate cold water. Never had seaweed bread before but easy enough so will give it a try.


  2. What a neat recipe! Not sure I could find dried seaweed ANYWHERE near me but maybe someday I will get the chance because this sounds delicious.
    Beautiful photos also.

  3. Gorgeous sunset! And I love the Irish response to buying the seaweed...too funny! Lovely looking bread~

  4. Oh delicious as it looks...YUCK! I can't stand dulce...grew up having it around our house cuz my dad loved it (our family is from Nova Scotia). Does it taste that strong in the bread? That's my point...hahahaha! Not trying to dis you! Your recipes are Fantabulous! xo

  5. @ Wendy - I understand your reaction - and I'm not a fan of eating straight from the packet. Cooking diminishes the strong taste and there's just a background flavour, like the smell of the sea.

  6. Since I have had the cellophane like seaweed wraps for sushi, I am sure I could deal with the bread. It sounds like it would be better, sure does look better! Unique enough to be worth a try. Stunning sunset photo!

  7. I bet the bread is amazing with smoked salmon! The sunset is beautiful - I can imagine how stunning it was in person!

  8. Last Europe sunset sounds so romantic and beautiful! The Japanese eat seaweed everyday for all kind of uses but never heard of adding in bread. Maybe someone probably makes it but not common ingredients. Seaweed has great nutrition and this is a wonderful recipe! I enjoyed your post Hester!

  9. a very unique bread with dilleasc, I sure would love to try!

  10. What a gorgeous picture of the sunset!

  11. Oh this just brought back major memories. My dad was from out east and loved dulce. We also had some hanging around the house. Thanks for sharing the recipe and bringing back some childhood memories.xx

  12. Haven't heard of dilleasc before, Hester - love the stone age crisps and the Irish saying. LoL. So original adding it to bread and can imagine great with smoked salmon - would love it for something original with oysters this Christmas.

  13. Now that's about the most interesting bread recipe I've seen. I live near the beach...I'll have to do some research regarding the seaweed we have here. The crisps and pulverized versions intrigue me as well. I'm wondering if it's one of those things that you have to grow up with to appreciate...then I read the comment from Wendy@HerBallisticGarden. Blows that theory!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  14. What an unique recipe for bread!! I would have never thought to put seaweed in a bread!

  15. It was Japanese food that introduced me to seaweed, and I love it. Nice to learn about the Irish side of it. Great recipe Hester!

  16. Hey look! Its Hester! Love the pic

    This bread sounds pretty outstanding. I'd be all about the salty crisps. Mmmm.

    And I gotta say, I'm a little disappointed you didn't partake in any 'hitching' to get your seaweed. That sounds like half the fun! :)

  17. I've never heard of Dilleasc. Now I'm on a mission to find it. The health benefits would be a plus, but even better, the bread looks hearty and delicious!

  18. One of my best girlfriends is Japanese and she has been trying to get me to eat seaweed for years! I've only taken a little taste and it was just ok. I love how you describe this as tasting like the sea... that has me tempted!
    Your sunset photograph is beautiful! Ireland is high on our list of places to visit.

  19. I like seaweed in Japanese food and bet I'd like this too. That photo of the sunset is fabulous!

  20. May your Christmas sparkle with moments of joy, love, laughter & family time. May the year ahead be full of contentment and love.
    Wishing you all the best, and loads of smile, not only for upcoming Holidays but for every day in a year. Have a Merry Christmas!!!
    P.S This bread will definitely have a special place in my cooking-note-book! Just finished off writing it down, it looks so delicious!

  21. What a delightful and beautiful bread...would be beautifully pared with salmon, I love this!
    Happy Holidays

  22. Hester...what an absolutely beautiful bread! I am certain I'd love it with the smoked salmon...but drizzling it with honey to have with my tea sounds fabulous, long as my ankles are dry! Your photography is gorgeous, as usual! I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season, Hester!


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