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Hi Bold Bakers!
What You Get: A simple homemade version of County Waterford’s famous Irish bread rolls — where the hardest part is just waiting for the double proofing!
This is Patricia Stafford (Gemma’s Mum) sharing my recipe for a famous bread I grew up on in Waterford, Ireland called blaas.
Waterford Blaas are something that, if you have ever been to County Waterford in Ireland, you will have probably come across. This recipe is found only in Waterford, where the world-famous crystal glass also comes from. Similar to how Champagne can only really be made in the Champagne region of France, if blaas are made outside of County Waterford, then they are no longer considered blaa rolls, but a regular bread roll instead (but mine are blaas).
It’s believed to have been brought to Waterford and the South East by the French during the reformation. The blaa is a soft, white, floury bread roll, similar to a Bap or Hamburger Bun. It is popular here in Ireland, especially in Waterford City and County. They are also made in Kilkenny and Clonmel, both originally Norman walled towns.
Because of the huge demand for blaa rolls, and in an effort to increase production, many Waterford bakers place the round dough pieces close to each other on the baking tray. During fermentation, the round dough pieces expand and batch together, so they bake out in a square, rather than a round shape. Prior to baking, the trays of rolls are dusted liberally with white flour. The dusting flour does not take on color in the oven and remains white.
What Makes Authentic Waterford “Blaas?”
The origin of the name blaa is debated, though some would say it comes from the French word for corn “Blé.” A true, authentic Blaa should be made from naturally fermented dough, and the rounded dough pieces should be given a prolonged proof prior to baking. This traditional method gives the blaa its distinctive flavor. My recipe describes how to make blaa rolls by proving it once, then knocking back the dough gently. After that, it’s proving, shaping, and proving again before dusting with flour and baking. It’s this which gives them their special flavor. This process cannot be rushed, and if it is, then your blaa rolls will be a totally different thing!
What Goes Best On A Blaa?
This is personal presence but when the kids were young and I’d bring home Blaas from Waterford we would have them simply with butter and rashers — which is Irish bacon cut from the loin more so than the belly compared to American bacon.
What You Need To Make Blaas
This recipe requires double proofing and uses more yeast than your usual bread roll. Here are the special things you might need to get to make them:
- Active Dry Yeast. This recipe uses active dry yeast, which you’ll need to sponge before you add it in, instead of instant yeast (which you add to recipes without sponging).
- Bread Flour. You can sometimes swap out bread flour for all-purpose flour, but the higher protein content in bread flour will yield a result much closer to authentic Blaas this time around. IF you do use all-purpose, you might need less liquid, too, so be aware.
How To Make Waterford Blaas
This recipe really is quite simple and the hardest part will be waiting for the double proof — waiting is hard when you want fresh rolls! Here’s how you make them — just get the full recipe, with measurements, further down on the page:
- Add your warm water, yeast, and sugar together and mix until dissolved. Let this rest until the yeast activates and bubbles!
- Mix your flour and salt together.
- Add your yeasty water to the flour, mix.
- Note: only add enough of the liquid until your dough forms a ball and the bowl is clean. You might need less — or a bit more — water depending on your flour and location to get the desired ball of dough!
- Knead for 5 minutes, either by hand or in your mixer.
- Put the dough into an oiled bowl and let it proof for about an hour in a warm spot.
- Note: Check on it when you’re approaching an hour. Depending on the heat and humidity of where you live, you might need a little less, or a little more, time.
- Knock the air out of the dough and put it back in the bowl for another round of proofing. This time should be shorter, around 30 minutes, but keep an eye on it again.
- Turn out the dough and cut it into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll the dough pieces into balls, smoothing out the seams. Place them in your baking pan about 1 inch apart.
- Cover and let rise for a final time, in the pan, for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Dust liberally with flour, and bake in a 425°F ( 210°C) in a pre-heated oven for about 25-35 minutes.
- Eat and enjoy with butter — and bacon, if you’d like!
How To Store Them
Store the Blaas at room temperature in an airtight container. I like to keep them out of the fridge so the texture is softer. Blaas last for up to 3 days but also they freeze really well. I often pop them into the freezer and then I have them when I want just one roll for a sandwich.
An Irish Mum’s Tips For Authentic Waterford Blaas
- To be prepared, make the dough the day before and bake the Blaas off fresh the next day
- Don’t forget to do the double proof as it is what gives Blaas their distinguished flavor
- After 3 days you can re-fresh your Blaas in the oven wrapped in foil and lightly baked at 350°F (180°C) for roughly 10 minutes or until soft again
- If your Blaas go stale and dry you can put them in a food processor and make bread crumbs out of them
I hope you enjoy this recipe,
– Patricia xx.
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Watch The Recipe Video!
How to Make Waterford Blaas (Authentic Irish Recipe)
- ⅔ cup (5floz/142ml) warm water
- 1 1/2 (.5oz/14g) tablespoons dry active yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/3 cups (10 1/2 floz/300ml) water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 1/2 cups (1 3/4 lbs/780g) bread flour
- In a small jug add the warm water, yeast, and sugar and stir until dissolved. Allow standing for about 5 minutes to activate and bubble.
- Add the salt to the flour and mix well.
- Add the yeasty water to the flour along with the remaining water bit by bit, stirring with a whisk or in a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. (Note: Only add enough water for your dough to form a ball and clean the bottom of the bowl)
- Once the dough comes together into a nice clean ball knead the dough, by hand or in your stand mixer with the dough hook for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the dough should feel smooth and elastic, stretching without breaking.
- Put the dough into a large oiled bowl, and allow to proof for about one hour in a warm spot.
- After one hour the dough should have at least doubled in size. If you press your finger into the dough it shouldn't bounce back. That means it's proofed enough.
- Knock the air out of the dough then return it to the bowl for a second proof. This should take about 30 minutes.
- After the second proofing, turn the dough onto a floured table and gently cut it into 12 even-sized pieces. About (90g/3oz) in weight.
- Roll gently between your palms to shape each roll into a nice round shape. Place the rolls about 1 inch apart in a pan (about 9 inches x 13 inches).
- Cover the rolls with cling wrap and allow proofing once more for 45 minutes to an hour. At this point the dough ferments, giving these rolls their distinctive flavor.
- Dust the top of the rolls with a bit of flour and bake in a 425°F ( 210°C) in a pre-heated oven for about 25-35 minutes. These rolls should have crisp bottoms when fully baked. They should not be too brown on top.
- Enjoy with Irish butter and rashers (or bacon) in the middle. Store at room temperature for 2 days. These rolls freeze well for up to 6 weeks also.
For Waterford people this is a sacred thing, proceed with caution!