Although often associated with County Waterford, blaa bread arrived on Irish shores in the late 1600s when the French Huguenots brought the recipe with them. The word “blaa” is said to be derived from "blanc," the French word for white, but this theory is disputed.
In 2013, blaa bread was awarded Protected Geographical Indication status by the European Commission, meaning that only a blaa actually made in Waterford can be called a blaa.
The most traditional way to pick up a blaa in Waterford is either as a breakfast blaa with rashers or a full Irish or with some red lead (a luncheon sausage). Of course, you could also try it with whatever sandwich filler you like but us Irish would recommend some ham or real Irish butter and some cheese and onion Tayto crisps (chips). Good lord.
Traditional Waterford blaa bread recipe
- 3 lbs bread flour
- 2 oz fresh yeast or 1 oz active dried yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 2 1/4 pints water
- 1 tsp salt
Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.
When the yeast is frothy and the sugar is dissolved add the mixture to the flour with salt and remaining water.
Knead for five minutes until smooth and elastic.
Put the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling wrap and put in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled.
Punch dough down, cover, and leave to rise again for about a half-hour.
Punch down again gently and turn out onto a floured board. Divide dough into 24 even-sized buns, slightly flattened (approx 3 oz each) and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Allow to rise at room temperature until double in size - 2 to 3 hours.
Heat oven 425°F (210°C). Dust rolls lightly with all-purpose flour and bake for about 15 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Ideally, rolls should not be too brown on top.
Have you ever tried blaa bread before? Let us know in the comments!
*Originally published in 2014, updated in April 2023.