In the run up to the release of our 3rd issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal, and our very first print edition on December 14th, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions who have filled the pages of our previous issues. Our visit to the Fire House Bakery was the first feature we ever shot for the magazine.
An obsession with detail has got a bit of a bad rap in recent years, yet it is the deep knowledge of the details of a craft which ensure the very best quality. That’s what you’ll find at the Firehouse Bakery on Heir Island where Patrick Ryan and partner Laura Moore have created a bakery school of unparalleled excellence.
Patrick is the star of BBC2’s the Big Bread Experiment, which
charted a social experiment in reuniting a community through bread. He is also the co author of Bread Revolution. He wrote this book with Duncan Glendinning who hails from Bath, where Patrick spent four years as head baker at Duncan’s Thoughtful Bread Company, an award wining artisan bakery.
The Firehouse Bakery is located on a picturesque island off the West Cork coast. A ferry takes you across the sea to their world of baking, where all aspects of their craft are taught from bread and scones to sour dough. Once you’ve finished pummelling and proving, the baking is done in the wood burning clay oven, the only oven they use. Time spent at the school is an opportunity not just to learn bread making but to gain a life skill that was previously such an important part of daily Irish life. The work at Firehouse Bakery acts as an ark of ancient skills where hands are still intimately involved in the bread making process. Machines that make soulless bread have no place at Firehouse Bakery where the human touch has been woven back into this most ancient of foods.
Alongside Patrick you’ll find his ever supportive partner Laura Moore. They have quickly developed a highly successful business, and are kept busy with bookings which already stretch into the summer. The pair have also just launched a bakery in Delgany, Co. Wicklow, which is now up and running.
In an age of mass bread production this thriving artisan business is a lesson in the fine art of integrity and quality. They shared their rosemary and olive oil sourdough bread for our Spring/Summer 2013 feast as well as a bit of a masterclass in giving life to your very own sourdough starter. Bread revolution, here we come.
Firehouse Bakery, Heir Island, Skibbereen, Co. Cork, Ireland, Tel: +353 85 1561984.