Showing posts with label Mayfield. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mayfield. Show all posts

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Arbutus: Five Star Bread


Arbutus: Five Star Bread
He can talk the talk

Go easy on the dough. Don’t beat the shit out of it.
That was the advice from founder and owner Declan Ryan as he welcomed a group from the UCC Fermentation Society to his Mayfield bakery, Arbutus Bread, this week. He recalled various enthusiastic people hammering the dough all over the place but gentleness is the answer. Apparently Jamie Oliver was one of those overly eager bakers, not in Mayfield though. But he took the advice and said that not only did his bread-making skills improve but so too did his love-making.

and walk the walk!

Declan has been in love with bread-making for a long time, even when he was scaling the heights of cuisine back in the day when the family’s Arbutus Hotel was the place to eat in Cork. And not just for locals, particularly after Declan was awarded Ireland's first ever Michelin star.
But then things changed for Declan. The old enthusiasm wasn't here any longer. “I got burned out…. was tired as a chef.” Retirement, he knew, wouldn't suit him and so,  he turned to his hobby which was baking.

And he began Arbutus Bread in his converted two car garage, making the deliveries himself by jeep. Now an new enthusiasm fermented and he learned more about the trade and the art from some of the very best. He tracked down a course in France and here his two tutors were two of the top bakers in France, Pierre Nury and Xavier Honorin “who were inspirational in their enthusiasm”.

You may read more about the early days of Arbutus Bread here.

Declan met us himself and showed us some early vessels associated with bread, one of a type used in the time of the Pharaohs. Spelt was the grain used at that period. Then he showed us a Greek urn from 340 BC and by now the bakers were using wheat. He had a trio of harvest masks on display including a very impressive one from Nigeria.
Harvest mask from Nigeria

Arbutus breads are based on the French artisan tradition and he uses a French wheat Bagatelle Red Label La Farine Type 65, no less than four tonnes a week to produce 2,000 to 3,000 loaves a day! You may see the full list of their breads here.
That two car garage has long been left behind. Indeed, five years after its founding, Arbutus moved to the current premises in Mayfield and, just a couple of years back, they doubled the space but stayed in the same site. Now they have 17 employees, spread across five nationalities.
The barrel sized sourdough maker and keeper,
the heart of Arbutus.

While Declan’s ingredients are limited to the traditional three or four (unlike the multiples of that seen on many commercially made breads), there are other factors that are critical to the production. One is temperature and here you have to bring all the elements to an average of 23 degrees for the dough mix. Salt too is critical, not just for taste but “for structure”.
And then there's the butter story. Arbutus do produce some sweet things, eg Brioche but especially croissants. You need butter for the latter, a special “dry” butter. Kerrygold produce it but it is not available here. It is exported to France by the container load. Then it is bought by various companies over there. One is Elle & Vire. They package it nicely, with the Eiffel Tour and the French tricolour prominent and sell it in France and some of it finds its way back to Dublin where Declan purchases it for his croissants!

And the determination that only top notch ingredients be used for Arbutus Bread is further underlined in their Pain aux Chocolat. Many would settle for ordinary chocolate but only the best, Valrhona, will do for Declan.


That sourdough culture taste is ...well....  Sour?

As the tour drew to a close, he found time to hand out great praise to a hero of his, Donal Creedon of Macroom Mills, an outstanding producer and "one of a kind". And credit also to his grandmother. The Arbutus Soda Bread recipe (with only slight alteration) came from her. And then it was time to tuck into tea, breads and some sweet stuff that he had lined up for us.
A big thank you to the UCC Fermentation Society for the invite. Other recent Society events included a Tasting Quiz, a wine basics trip to L’Atitude 51, and a visit to Rising Sons Brewery. For future events check out their Facebook page here.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

THE BEERS SESSION


THE BEERS SESSION


Great to see the award winning O’Donovan’s Off Licence open a store here in Mayfield.

They are well known for their big selection of wine but, just to be contrary, my first call was for some cold beer. And, with courteous and informed help from the staff, I hit the jackpot, taking home five 50cl bottles of premier continental beer for just €10.00.

I’m not a big fan of wheat beer but included the Grolsch Weizen, the best wheat beer of 2007, in my bag. This 5.3% Dutch beer, a cloudy one, is brewed according to German standards. I made it the first of my tastings and enjoyed its aromas and taste more than previous wheat beers, though I wouldn’t want it for a session beer.

Didn't know that it needed a special pouring technique until I visited the website so maybe the next one will be even better.

Next up was the Warsteiner Premier Verum, a German effort with an ABV of 4.8%. This Pilsner was light and tarty and more my style then the Grolsch.

With a golden colour and a smooth taste, and well balanced, I had no doubts about opening my bottle of Budejovicke Pivo 1795. I like the Czech beers in any case and this, with its Protected Geographical Indication, is one of the best. The ABV is 4.7%.

Finished off with my old favourite, the Staropramen Premium Czech Lager  with an ABV of 5%. This is widely available and well worth a try. The brewery says it contains the spirit of Prague. Not too sure about that but it is smooth and well balanced and I find it easy and pleasant to drink.

I reckon I’ll be staying with the Czechs for the time being but I am on the lookout for a local lager. Must call soon to Bradley Off Licence for advice but, in the meantime, I’m open to suggestions!