Have you heard of blaas? It’s common in Ireland — especially County Waterford — and my Waterford Blaas recipe results in a floury bread roll, soft, and endlessly delicious.
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 highly 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 colour 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 flavour. 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!
I hope you enjoy it,
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- ⅔ cup (5floz/142ml) warm water
- 1 1/2 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 to proof once more for 30 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 20-25 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.
Serve with butter and jam! This was a breakfast roll, available from early in the morning when I was a child. Someone would be sent to get them in the morning for an occasional treat. They would be warm and delicious. These are best on the day they are made, but can be frozen and refreshed in a hot oven.
For Waterford people this is a sacred thing, proceed with caution!
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