A day with Joe Fitzmaurice, Riotrye on his Sourdough Course

I spent a day with my son last weekend learning to bake sourdough bread with Joe Fitzmaurice of RiotRye Bakery in Cloughjordan. I know his family for years (having been a customer a long time ago of Blazing Salads when it was in Powerscourt) and got to know him over the last 4 or 5 years as he reestablished his business in Irelands most famous eco-village. He is also a founding member of Real Bread Ireland.

The course was 7 hours long and it flew. Over the course of the day we made 6 loaves each – 2 each of wheat, rye and spelt sourdoughs. The wheat needs the most loving so we started on that and worked it each 30 minutes until it was ready for the oven.

The other two we mixed and prepared straight away 🙂

I am mostly going to tell this story with the photos I took – keeping in mind that for most of the day your hands are covered in dough/flour so there is no way to take your phone out and snap!

There is also a video towards the end where Joe explains more about his (slightly famous in bread baking circles) wood fired brick oven.

Strongly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn and enjoy bread.

Keith

We start in a working bakery with 8 places prepared

We start in a working bakery with 8 places prepared

Locally grown biodynamic rye. Joe talks about this a lot during the course.

Locally grown biodynamic rye. Joe talks about this a lot during the course.

 

This is some of that rye sprouting,

This is some of that rye sprouting,

 

A small hand mill for preparing tiny amounts of flour

A small hand mill for preparing tiny amounts of flour

  

At scale Joe uses organic flours from Shipton Mill in the UK. Has bought directly from them since he started.

At scale Joe uses organic flours from Shipton Mill in the UK. Has bought directly from them since he started.

    

When you are working with a deep oven you need mechanical help!

When you are working with a deep oven you need mechanical help!

     

Courses don't run themselves and Julie, Joe's partner, is around for a lot of the day helping him.

Courses don’t run themselves and Julie, Joe’s partner, is around for a lot of the day helping him.

 

For participants who prepared their own starters (fermented flour) Joe gave feedback on each of them.

For participants who prepared their own starters (fermented flour) Joe gave feedback on each of them.

 

A free coating of flour goes with the day

A free coating of flour goes with the day

Joe spends time both explaining the essence of bread and also sharing his views on food and people. Its great :-)

Joe spends time both explaining the essence of bread and also sharing his views on food and people. Its great 🙂

Take local timber, burn it and this is what you get.

Take local timber, burn it and this is what you get.

This is the end result, in this case a white wheat sourdough

This is the end result, in this case a white wheat sourdough

A full basket of tasty real breads was ours to take home

A full basket of tasty real breads was ours to take home

thanks to Joe and Julie for the day. Much enjoyed, much learned. More here and book a course for yourself online.

Keith

Learn to bake Real Bread – Kilkenny, Tipperary and Wicklow/Cork #realbreadireland

One of the aims of Real Bread Ireland is to help people rediscover the art of baking real bread at home. These are the members that run baking sessions:

Speltbaker, Kilkenny

These will run every second weekend starting on 14th/15th February. The bake house is small and numbers are limited to 5 per day. Because of this small number, we can tailor the course to individual requirements and make whatever people want to learn or have the biggest problems with.

Saturday is “the full Irish” and work on Soda breads, railway cake, fruit scones, stripy cats, apple tarts and such like and

Sunday is the continental day with yeast, sourdough and brioche dough, with loaves, rolls,  stromboli and pizza. 

The days are scheduled to run from 2-6pm on Saturdays and Sunday with tea and coffee at the start and a glass of wine with whatever we managed to make at the end of the day. We will supply all that is required for the days baking and people will receive a folder with recipes, addresses etc.

Cost is set at €60 per day or €100 per weekend. Contact Josephine on ideasunlimited@eircom.net for more information

Riot Rye, Tipperary

Joe Fitzmaurice does both Sourdough and Introduction to Baking courses. This is the information on his Sourdough:

Sourdough Course

8 places, €95 per person, 1 day course
Saturdays – 28th Feb 2015, 14th & 28th March, 25th April 2015 with more dates to follow
11am-5:30pm, lunch included

You will learn

  • how to make flavoursome and highly nutritious sourdough breads
  • how to start and maintain a sourdough starter
  • how to manage the fermentation and flavour of your doughs
  • about the nutritional benefits and digestability of sourdough breads
  • You will gain an understanding of how to blend flours and flavours and refresh your sourdough starters. Using temperature and various fermentation techniques, you will learn how to work with the subtle and complex textures, flavours and forms of your breads.

You will bring home with you a selection of breads, fresh sourdough starter and the confidence to bake real bread at home!

Find out more on his website.

Firehouse Bakery

The most obvious place for a baker based in Delgany to run baking courses is in West Cork. On an island….

We limit our class numbers to ensure each course is personailized. Throughout the day you will work side by side with Patrick as he introduces you to the versatile world of real bread, no square and pre-sliced loaves here.

By the day’s end you will have produced authentic soda bread, seen your yeasted loaves rise and tasted both sweet and savoury treats. You might even get to meet the king of the bread basket, sourdough.

Where possible each course will be tailored to the needs, abilities and interests of the group. If you have a particular interest please let us know.

Course includes:

Return ferry to Heir Island
Full day hands on baking experience
Bake your very own hand made bread in a wood fired clay oven
Lunch with wine, with Roaringwater Bay serving as the back drop
An artisan baker’s goodie bag to take home
And as much freshly baked bread as you can carry
Split tins, cob loaves, pizzas, flat breads, foccacias, cinnamon swirls and a whole lot more are all waiting for you at the Firehouse Bakery and Bread school. Book your place today!

Timings: 10:30 am – 5:30pm Ferry from Cunnamore Pier at 10am ( Sundays 9.30am) Returns at 6pm

Cost: €110 per person

Check out their website for more details but as of the date of this post the 23rd June is the earliest there is space available! They also run evening courses in Delgany, equally booked out.

Keith

BiabeagOnline.com – buying small scale Irish food products online

UPDATE 11:50 – I can see the site via iPhone over same wifi network but not on laptop on two different browers, Update again in a minute.

UPDATE 11:46 11th Dec – right now (8minutes after the blog post!) that website is down. It is hosted on wordpress.com so it is extremely unusual to see that. I had just purchased the domain name and tested that it was working so it maybe related to that. I’ll update again when up.

One of the ways in which small scale Irish food producers can survive and thrive is to develop alternative distribution and sales channels.

In some cases those channels fully substitute for working with distributors and/or retailers (either independent or multiples) and in other cases they are in addition to those.

When I worked with Bord Bia previously on this there were significant challenges to making a success of online retail – everything from the technology (websites, shopping carts and payment processing) through to fulfilment of multiple small orders.

It has gotten a lot easier and many more producers have moved to develop online stores – so many that when I finally got around to developing a quick guide/directory over Christmas I found more than I had anticipated and have been adding 3 or 4 a week as I see them. (There are no multiple retailers listed because they don’t need this assistance.)

The results are up on www.biabeagonline.com and it would be great if this makes it easier for small producers to sell and for us as consumers to find great food online – whether for regular purchases or irregular gifts and treats 🙂

Some quick stats based on first 56 inclusions:

Screenshot 2015-01-11 11.31.31

Thats a lot of food producers selling their products with some of them using subscription packages to make it commercially viable and others like Real Italian Foodies curating a selection of products to make individual sales bigger.

As you can see online also makes it easier to reach niche food audiences and for those audiences to find relevant and suitable products.

If you find one I’ve missed please let me know in the comments and if there are inaccuracies point them out to me 🙂

Keith

Buying Irish artisan food online – list of sources

An increasingly useful option for small scale Irish food producers is to at least supplement their sales via retailers with an online store. This won’t always be appropriate or successful but it has gotten a hell of a lot easier in the last couple of years.

Finding those online store options can be difficult for consumers and I know that I have seen announcements almost weekly on Facebook for the last 3 or 4 months.

https://biabeagonline.wordpress.com

A new project (to make good use of my Christmas downtime) is to bring a list of those online sites together in one place. Nothing fancy but hope it helps. If you know of any relevant sites that are not there please let me know in the comments here 🙂

Screenshot 2014-12-27 15.48.09

thanks, Keith

Videos of Meet the Chocolate Makers @thetrufflefairy @BLYSS_choc @Beanandgoose

Thanks as ever to Ken McGuire, AnyGivenFood, for videoing and editing/design of these rough cuts of the evening. This was a fixed camera as he had to head away but captured most of the evening 🙂

And thanks to the crowd who turned up, to Julie and Rod Calder Potts for their work in hosting and to Karen, Mary and Lyss for sharing their passion and stories with us 🙂

Karen Keane, Bean and Goose

Mary Teehan, Truffle Fairy

Alyssa Jade McDonald, Blyss Chocolate

Keith

Competition Time – Win a behind the scenes tour of the new @highbankorchard distillery

On Saturday 13th December Ireland’s smallest legal distillery launches in Highbank Organic Orchard.

This one is special for a number of reasons. Apart from the distinction of being the smallest it will also be the only organic spirit distillery in Ireland and also the only one where the raw material for the spirits is grown on the farm the distillery is based on.

Thats important to Rod and Julie Calder Potts who are the driving force behind this.

Saturday 13th will see a big crowd turn up for the opening of the distillery and that will be the first time that the spirits will be for sale. Its a food production facility so everyone who turns up will get to see the distillery through a special viewing window.

still viewing window

But for a special group it will be different – you will get a tour of the facility behind the scenes (booties and the works) with Rod (the master distiller) explaining how this lovely machine works and showing you a batch of spirits in production. One of this special group will also win a signed bottle of the first production batch made :-).

This is RTE journalist Sarah McIntyre having that same tour yesterday.

 

What do you need to do to be in the winning?

Answer one of 2 questions either

a) in the comments here

b) on Twitter using #orchardspirit

c) on the Highbank Facebook Page

d) do a blog post and leave a link here or on their page

Q1 – what is the capacity in litres of the still?

or

Q2 Come up with a word or phrase for the labelling on the spirit that best describes the idea that the spirit is distilled on the farm from crops grown on the same farm. In chocolate this can be referred to as Bean to Bar, you can also see references to a Single Estate food product. What would best capture this for you?

Enjoy and look forward to seeing you on the 13th 🙂

Keith

Ardkeen Waterford – eCommerce Trading Manager

Over in my day job with Near Future I am doing a small piece of helping out with Colin and Kevin down in Ardkeen Quality Food Store. It is around the relaunch of their eCommerce website and service and as part of that they wisely have decided to take on someone dedicated to making it a success.

Hence this role. It will initially be part time but I’d wager a bet that whoever gets this will be part of the success of online for them and grow the role.

eCommerce Trading manager

Have a look, have a think. You will need a chunk of eCommerce under your belt so you understand both the functionality that drives a successful online trading venture and equally importantly the psychology of online food purchasing.

Will you also be passionate about small scale food production? I’d say so 🙂

Do share this with anyone who might fit the bill.

Keith

The 4 minute guide to Cacao Bean’s by @BLYSS_choc

As the Biabeag series of talks and sessions develops it is good to move further back and explore the provenance of the raw materials and the early processing that they are subjected to.

In this short video Lyss talks us through the word of cacao beans and helps us to understand how vital they are to the end product. Get them wrong (and we covered this a lot during the Roaster event) and you are guaranteed to fail.

You can meet, listen to and discuss cacao with Lyss, Karen from Bean and Goose and Mary from Truffle Fairy on Saturday November 8th. Click here for more info and to book.

Keith

Meet The Roasters – the backstory of a @planetbeancafe coffee bean

On 20th September we will be looking at how to properly roast great coffee beans so that their magic can be tasted and enjoyed. But that taste starts with the grower and harvester. 

This 5 minute video (from Fairtrade company Planet Bean in Ontario, Canada) tells the story of their growers, pickers and dryers.

Thanks to them for sharing. For more on Meet The Roasters click here

Keith