A Recipe for the Waterford Blaa (a Yeasted Irish Bread)
I can’t quite believe I’ve just typed Week 7 at the market, have I really been there 7 weeks? And I am but one day away from week 8. For something that happened organically and was quite unplanned save for the first week, it’s become quite a feature in this life of mine. Less major dramas and stress, there’s a routine in place at last, although I will continue to vary the produce to keep it interesting for me and for you.
There was one minor stress last week relating to transport to the market, namely it didn’t arrive, so apologies to anyone that got down there early to discover that I wasn’t there. I felt very bad about that. Onwards and upwards, I’ll ensure that doesn’t happen this week. I normally leave with enough buffer time to handle traffic etc. but if the cab doesn’t turn up, well, there’s nothing I can do about that. What’s that you say? Learn to drive? Buy a car? All in good time, all in good time.
The pork loin was popular as always and we were down to our last sandwich by 3pm. The bread sold out earlier than this and we had to top up with some lovely bread from fellow stall holders The Flour Station (they’re excellent – do check them out). There were a couple of new things this weektoo, two tarts. A potato, bacon and camembert tart and caramelised onion and goats cheese tartlets. The onions were caramelised in butter for over an hour and were rich and delicious. I struggled not to eat them all, a dual challenge last week as I struggled to avoid the crispy crackling which tempts me every week and, now also, the caramelised onions.
The crackling brought with it some bother last week. It is very crisp and tempting, glistening and winking at passers by from the stall, and several people requested some, some for free, and others tried to buy. There is never enough crackling, and every sandwich must have some, so I had to refuse, prompting one bizarre response from one girl who expected me to give it to her for free, stating quite crankily that I must be psychically very voluptuous. Eh?! As always though, most people were lovely. One couple had the sandwich then came back for some tart and prosecco, and then some more prosecco. My kind of people!
My bread at the stall has attracted much comment, and the recipe has been requested several times. Having made it several times, and feeling fairly confident in it, it’s time to share it. To recap, a blaa is a traditional bread made almost exclusively in Waterford, the county in Ireland where I grew up. I’ve been told that it’s also made in Newfoundland, as many people from Waterford emigrated there during the famine in the mid 19th century and brought the recipe with them. It’s light and soft and quite fluffy, I don’t know why it’s not more widely known.
A word about yeast, it’s a living thing and it is possible to kill it, so ensure that the water is only lukewarm. Lukewarm to wake it up and start it reproducing, hot water will kill it, and kill your bread. Sugar feeds it and gets it going. Most recipes don’t call for sugar but this one does, and gives it a nice subtle sweetness as well as really livening the yeast.
The recipe takes some time but is worth it. Do ensure that that you knead the dough thoroughly, for 10 minutes or so. Also ensure that you sift the flour and introduce air this way. These steps are both key to producing a light bread.
Enjoy, hope you like it. Makes 8 blaas.
- 500g extra strong white flour, plus extra for dredging
- 10g salt
- 10g butter
- 10g active dried yeast
- 10g sugar
- 275g water, lukewarm