The Waterford Blaa can now reach significantly more markets including a summer of festivals thanks to funding sourced from the Waterford Local Enterprise Office. The purchase of new freezers has enabled them to freeze the Blaa in their own way, thus bringing its unique flavour and appearance to new customers across Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Walsh's Bakehouse (formerly M&D Bakery is named after two brothers, Michael and Dermot Walsh, who are third generation bakers. Twenty six years ago, they started their own bakery in Waterford City, making breads for the catering and retail industry, and naturally, the Waterford Blaa is included in their repertoire. Walsh's Bakehouse won the Best Small Producer Award from Good food Ireland 2010/2011.
In 2008 the Waterford Blaa won a Euro Toque Taste award for its uniqueness. It was at this award ceremony that Michael and Dermot met several people who expressed a serious interest in both buying and distributing the Blaa. However supplying this unique bread, not known for its shelf life presented a significant challenge to overcome. Getting the product to customers on a national basis required an ability to extend the blaas life span and this is where Waterford Local Enterprise Office stepped in.
Dermot emphasised the importance of the Enterprise Office's role, "Their grants for new equipment enabled us to buy not only new ovens but more importantly to install freezers capable of freezing our product the way our suppliers required it. The purchase of this equipment not only allowed us to supply to customers in Waterford, but now we have customers all over Ireland and Northern Ireland. The ease and speed at which the Enterprise Office was able to help us gave us great confidence in moving our business to a new level and the team in Waterford Local Enterprise Office couldn't have been more helpful."
The Blaas origins goes back to the 1690's when during the reformation in Europe the French Huguenots fleeing from their suitors arrived to Ireland and settled mostly on the east coast. They brought with them baking skills and introduced white flour, and the name Blaa is believed to be shortened from the French word Blanc. It was made popular by Brother Edmund Ignatius Rice, who had his own bakery in Mount Sion just off Barrack Street. The Blaa is made from white bread dough, flour, water, salt and yeast, with no additives or preservatives. The dough is shaped into small balls, flattened, prooved and sprinkled with white flour before baking.
The Walsh brothers are rightfully proud of their version, and whilst the Blaa may be a Waterford speciality at the moment, they intend to make it a star on a national scale. If Michael and Dermot get their way, the whole of Ireland will be enjoying the Blaa before long. Bring it on!
Waterford Local Enterprise Office offers support services for start-up and existing SME's in Waterford city. If you have a new business idea or are running a business that requires assistance you can contact the Enterprise Office by phoning 051-852883 or check out what they have to offer first on www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford.