Last Thursday week I went to an evening bread making class, held at the artisan Firehouse Bakery, in Delgany a pretty north Wicklow heritage village. The Firehouse Bakery is part of a foodie complex called ‘The Delgany’ and said complex has: a food hall; a restaurant; a flower and gift shop; and the aforementioned Firehouse Bakery which is a bakery cum café.
Once upon a not so long time ago I lived a short drive away from the Firehouse Bakery and, before I moved, it became one of my favourite spots to stop for coffee which I invariably had with either a divine pastry or a slice of delectable cake. I also had lunch there a few times: they serve the most excellent sandwiches and pizzas with properly crisp bases which are cooked in the bakery’s wood burning oven. Everything is made on the premises and no additives, preservatives, or flour treatment agents are added to what they bake. As soon as it opened it became my go to place for bread and indeed since I moved, if I am anywhere nearby, I will make a detour to stock up on their superb spelt sourdough.
I suspect that Patrick Ryan, the owner of The Firehouse Bakery, didn’t foresee, when he was leaving school, that baking would be his future métier because he enrolled in University College Galway to do a corporate law degree: he qualified but never practised. Instead he trained as a chef and went on to work in a Michelin-starred establishment. He also traveled to far-flung destinations and on his travels he met Duncan Glendinning who persuaded him to move to Bath in the UK where he set up, with Duncan, ‘The Thoughtful Bread Company’ an award-winning artisan bakery. During his time in Bath he co-authored with Duncan a book called the Bread revolution (Rise up & Bake) which was published in 2012. Patrick returned to Ireland in 2012 to establish the Firehouse Bread School and Bakery on Heir Island in Cork, the Delgany outpost opened in May 2013.
The class I went to was excellent, we were a group of eight and we worked hard for three and a half-hours, kneading dough is a great work-out for the arms! Patrick is extraordinarily passionate about food in general and bread making in particular: he places great stress on the importance of using top quality ingredients. He is a good communicator and we learnt a bit about the science behind bread making and a little of its history. I didn’t know, for example, that in times gone by villages had their own communal ovens and that each household scored their breads with a distinctive mark so that they would recognize them when they came out of the oven.
We all made a plain white loaf and then half the class made focaccia and the other half made tear and share rolls and lastly we each made a different type of soda bread, my soda bread was an apple and cider with caraway loaf. We all ended up with a mountain of bread to take away and Patrick gave us each a sourdough loaf from the bakery and a cloth bread bag to carry it all home in.
There are regular classes at the Firehouse Delgany and Heir Island: they book out very quickly. The three-hour evening class in Delgany is €75 – when I signed up and paid I thought it sound a lot but having been I now declare it excellent value. Even if you never get to a class if you are anywhere close to Delgany it’s so worth stopping by the Firehouse Bakery to buy a loaf or two of real bread.
Note: the web address for the Firehouse Bakery is: www.thefirehouse.ie
30 responses to “Firehouse Bakery Delgany: Bread Making Class”
Your class sounds absolutely lovely! What a fun tidbit of information about bakers marking their bread. We have a local bread place in Ann Arbor called great harvest that I really like to frequent. So much better than what you get in the supermarket.
The class was great. I was fascinated by idea of bakers ‘signing’ their own breads. It makes such sense, they were only eight of us in the class and when we put our white loaves in the oven we each scored the top differently so we could reclaim the right loaf when they were cooked.
Oh, it’s so cute to read this, at this very moment, as I am putting a loaf of bread into the oven. I do use the very best ingredients I can afford, but it won’t turn out as fine as the bread at the Firehouse bakery. I did know about communal ovens but I didn’t know that each family had its own mark…makes sense though. Apple, cider and carraway soda bread; how good is that?!!!!
As I am bit late in replying to your comment (sorry about that) I suspect that you have eaten or mostly eaten your loaf by now and I am sure it was good.
I have seen many versions of soda bread but this is the first time I have come across the imaginative combination of apple, cider and carraway …. 😉
Very imaginative. I have yet to make a successful soda bread. I am quite good at scones though 🙂
I love scones, I used to have one for breakfast most days but I am trying to eat a healthier breakfast so sones are now an occasional treat. 😉
I hardly ever make scones now. In my parents’ home they were part of our daily diet. Their speciallity was a part wholemeal/yogurt scone.
How wonderful, I love the story behind the bakery and it’s great they offer the classes. I wish we had something like that here. I would love to take a class on bread making.
I really enjoyed the class, I hope that they will run more classes, in the future, on other types of baking. If they do I will certainly sigh up to attend one of them 😉
That’s the best typo I’ve seen this year. I, too, would sigh up to attend a baking class. Mmmmmm, baked goods! (sigh!) 😉
Oops! I am bad at spotting typos – large sigh! 😉
This looks like fun. I like to make bread, but I don’t do it too often because I can’t resist eating it.
It was good fun. Homemade bread is difficult to resist!
Love the pictures–and I love good bread! My husband is a terrific bread baker (and I enjoy making a loaf now and then, too). We slice and freeze the bread in small packages to thaw and toast as we need it. That way we don’t feel tempted to overindulge, just so it won’t go to waste.
That sounds like a great way to ‘manage’ your bread consumption and to make sure you are not throwing food away.
It must be lovely to have your own baker! Nothing quite beats fresh home-made bread. 😉
I feel spoiled. Because I am.
Ah, that’s nice. 😉
That must have been a wonderful experience! What a nice treat to take all of that bread home too… 🙂
There was a huge amount of bread to take away when the class was finished. I don’t have a freezer so I only took what I thought I could eat in the following few days and gave the rest away … 😉
Must have been a lot of fun! I love going to cooking classes. There is always so much to learn! I have to admit I’m pretty lazy when it comes to make my own bread and my own pasta. It takes so much time and lately I think there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish what I’m supposed to. But once in a while, it’s fun and relaxing and always rewarding! 🙂
The bread looks amazing! I would love to have a bit of every kind!
The class was good fun and hard work! I don’t make bread very often either but having attended the class I may be tempted to so more often. May being the operative word.
I was really pleased with the white loaf I baked but I suspect it might be difficult to get the same result in a domestic oven.
I hope all is well with you, enjoy the rest of the week.
Those breads look delicious and not full of preservatives – I can almost smell that gorgeous doughy fresh baked aroma. Mmmmm!
I love the smell of freshly baked bread, there is just something about that’s so evocative. So yes definitely mmmmm!
Baking is cathartic. Would love to do a class like that xx
Agreed. The class was great, I hope you get to do one like it. Happy weekend. xx
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Sounds like a terrific way to spend an evening and you came away with delicious bread too.
It was Karen and we all baked up a bread storm so at the end of the class there was a ton of loaves to take home.
What a wonderful activity – plus I love sourdough bread! I also loved the story about how people back in the day recognized their own loaves of bread in the communal oven: simple and ingenious! So, is your “house sigil” a daisy flower, as in the shape of the seed encrusted bread in one of your photos? 😉
I love sourdough bread too although sadly we didn’t get to make any at the class. We all made the daisy flower shaped bread and for some reason none of us marked this one, so there was some doubt in my mind when the loaves came out of the oven as to which was mine! 😉