Friday, August 7, 2009

Pollys Take On Dough

In George's latest post she reviews the diabolical state of English bread. I'm not sure that we've quite caught up with it over here in Ireland; as it is possible to purchase vast quantities of stoneground bread alongside your ordinary batch loaf. Even the smallest corner shop sells some form of wholesome bread, often made by hand in a small bakery nearby.

Despite this; I was startled by the following quote:
“In Ireland as a whole, we have 250 small bakeries for a population of five million. In Germany, for 82.5 million people, they have 20,000.”
Also in Tullamore is Donoghue's craft bakery; also recently quoted in
"there’s definitely a market for craft breads in Ireland. He’s (Cathal O'Donoghue) a third-generation baker and, since he took over what was McGlinchey’s Bakery in Tullamore 17 years ago, he has grown turnover considerably. “We’ve expanded from IR£50,000 turnover a year to our present level of over E1m, with 30 on the staff,” he says.

But even though O’Donohue’s product range is very modern, one of its popular lines is still the old-fashioned traditional batch loaf.

He also says that, while the artisan bakery group has made a lot of progress since its launch, it needs a facilitator to drive it forwards. “If we all get in the one boat, we will go faster,” he explains. With the marketing plans about to be put in place, he believes that what the group really needs is good publicity – preferably on television – to sell the whole idea to the public."

Recently I was lucky enough to meet Mr O'Donoghue; at one of my Thursday morning breakfast meetings. Being an expert in both bakery and marketing he'd kindly brought along some samples of their staple Irish Brown Soda Bread, to quote one of our chat show hosts "one for every body in the audience!"

Unfortunately this turned out not to be so. On that morning we had a particularly busy meeting and were overwhelmed with visitors and new members, totalling some forty plus. Cathal had only banked on twenty four! Not to be outdone, he immediately sent word back to base and ordered a second tray, this time a Polish Malt Bread with Oats.

Well, I was one of the lucky ones. Being a straggler and the last to get breakfast can have its advantages, in this case I was able to snag three loaves - no it wasn't greed that motivated me, honest! By this time most of our members had departed leaving a sizeable quantity of forgotten dough on the table at the back of the restaurant.

This incident was a perfect example of my "waste not, want not"philosophy, resulting in perfectly toasted malt bread with lashings of butter in two households the following morning - I took one for my Mum as well. LB preferred his au-naturel with a thick layer of creamy Irish Butter. Sadly there are no pictures to illustrate this lovely discovery, but one thing is certain; next time we'll be buying it!


George said...

Excellent post Polly. From my visits to Ireland I've noticed that there is a lot more fresh 'artisan' bread available but here you have to hunt for it :(

Polly Pierce said...

Thanks George! Funny thing is that even bog standard Irish white bread can be delicious.

By that of course I am referring to the traditional batch loaf. Its secret is due to being baked in a totally different manner from ordinary sandwich variety bread.

I even managed to find a bakery in Southampton once that indulged my fancies - without being asked!