Speciality Loaves for the Weekend
BLACKTHORN BREADS is a micro bakery that began in 2012 to supply first one and then two local shops with a range of loaves once a week. However, since we opened Blackthorn and Willow in July 2015, Blackthorn Breads have been sold exclusively here every Saturday. The loaves are baked on the premises – in the kitchen above the shop – and often arrive in the shop still warm. They are ready by midday; if you arrive a little too early don’t worry – there is plenty to look at in the shop or you could have a cup of tea or coffee while you wait.
For such a small bakery we sell quite a wide selection of loaves – sourdough as well as yeasted. The regular loaves include a white batch enriched with olive oil, shaped into batons and boules and topped with poppy seeds; focaccia with fresh herbs; mixed grain cobs as well as sourdough loaves. In addition, each week there is usually a ‘special’, which changes depending on the season, for example, Sweet Lavender (in the summer) and Carrot & Oat Flowerpot loaves (in the autumn). Other ‘specials’ include Rosemary & Sultana Coburgs; Sunflower Brown, a French-style country loaf (Pain de Campagne) that combines sourdough leaven with a small amount of yeast, and Pain d’Epi.
Blackthorn Breads are made from the finest of ingredients – a mixture of flours (mostly organic stoneground flour); fresh yeast, olive oil, and sea salt form the basic loaves. In addition, depending on the type of bread, fresh herbs from our garden; organic carrots; wild garlic; sultanas, and sunflower and poppy seeds are added. We ferment the dough for a long time (some batches for 12 hours; some for 24 hours) and use only a tiny amount of yeast. In this way, our loaves are not only very tasty but are also far more digestible than bread that contains a lot of yeast and has risen quickly.
If you check our Facebook page (Blackthorn and Willow) on Thursdays you will find that I (usually!) post what loaves I will be baking the following Saturday.
‘Blackthorn Breads’ came about when, after baking bread for many years for family and friends, I decided to learn more about different styles of bread baking with a view to developing my baking. With this in mind, I went on the ‘Going Professional’ course for bakers run by Paul Merry of Panary and the following year I attended baker and author Andrew Whitley’s ‘Bread Matters’ course. The photo here is of fellow bakers on Andrew’s course, Siobhan and Mike Hogan (yes, from the Cranberries) who run the Sage Cafe in Limerick, with some of the loaves that we baked.
‘Blackthorn Breads’ is registered with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and the premises have been inspected and approved by the Council’s environmental health officer. ‘Blackthorn Breads’ is part of the Real Bread Campaign and Real Bread Ireland.