With recipes and traditions handed down through generations, one of Northern Ireland’s top food culture treasures is the uniqueness and variety of local breads.
Yet beyond the traditional bakeries, the much loved Northern Irish brands and the oh so tasty native staples there’s a whole host of new micro bakeries and artisan bakers on the scene, standing out from the crowd with a little bit of extra flair.
Some are adding surprising new ingredients to the traditional breads, with apple, sun dried tomato or even dulse appearing in soda bread, champ being worked into potato bread, Guinness topping up wheaten and caramel seeping into pancakes.
Others are investing time and skill to produce everything from hand moulded sourdoughs to mixed grain cobs, flat breads, focaccia, sweet and additive-free real bread in its purest form.
This is bread that smells good, looks good and tastes absolutely amazing. Look around and it’s easy to discover the bread of heaven in artisan bakeries, cafés, delis and restaurants right across the country.
Knead to Know Bakers
Drop into Ursa Minor Bakehouse in Ballycastle for honest artisan breads with a firm crust, along with a range of delicious sweet bakes, that are firm favourites in cafés and delis on the Causeway Coast. Among them Lost & Found in Coleraine and Warke’s Deli in Portstewart.
But don’t leave Ballycastle without also trying Tony’s Griddle Goods. Tony’s salted caramel pancakes and black pudding potato bread tempt hungry shoppers at the North Coast and Glens Market.
While in the area, pop over to Broughshane and try the most delicious gluten free potato bread, or maybe some black olive bread from Bread & Soul in the village.
Another small but beautiful micro bakery, set up by master bread baker Kenneth McNaul in Donaghadee, is Go Yeast. Fresh out of the oven here are sourdough breads, stromboli, pizza and a variety of yeasted breads, all available at Comber Farmer’s Market.
The Krazi Baker is well known for his artisan griddle breads – handmade soda bread, potato cakes, potato apple, wheaten loaves and all butter shortbread – made in front of your eyes.
But now Mark Douglas has cooked up a bakery school to pass on the techniques of making these traditional Irish griddle breads. You can check out the Krazi Baker at Comber Farmers Market and foodie events countrywide.
Another special learning spot is Belle Isle Cookery School in Fermanagh, where chef Joe Kelly offers courses in real bread making, home baking and breads from around the world.
Now Magherafelt micro bakery Black Quarter Breads has joined the scene, crafting sourdough based bread using only flour, water, salt and a tiny bit of olive oil.
This handmade bread is pleasing on the eye, delightful to the taste, and part of the great Northern Irish bread renaissance – just butter it up and enjoy.
For more information on Northern Ireland visit www.discovernorthernireland.com.