Monthly Archives: August 2017

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Fabulous French Flair worthy of the name…

Fabulous French Flair worthy of the name…

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All the experts will tell you that French bread is by definition crusty. Crispiness is the characteristic of a good baguette. Crispy on the outside with a light yellow crumb inside, this baguette offers bread lovers a heady bouquet of fragrance, and tastes as if buttered.

Taste good bread like a good wine: savour the creamy texture and the bubbly appearance, a sign of slow and careful mixing and well-developed long fermentation, inhale the yeasty tang and finally bite down on that crust. It is difficult not to bite into a hot baguette, just out of the baker’s oven. However, did you know that ideally you should have the patience to wait forty-five minutes or so before sinking your teeth in? Hot bread digests less well, and the heat masks some of the breath of flavour.

Going back to my French roots might seem a bit of a stretch but I can honestly say I am very proud of our latest addition to the Bretzel list: our baguette d’Espard. A classic baguette in the French tradition, it is the result of a partnership between ourselves and the French miller, Moulin Virons of Chartes, with whom we are very proud to be associated.

The Beauce region is known as the granary or bread basket of France. It is fertile productive land and one of the most renowned agricultural regions in the country. It also has a reputation as a magical and spiritual place. The majestic cathedral of the city of Chartres rises dramatically out of the flat plain of wheat and grain fields. Moulin Viron produces an unbleached soft French flour which is the main ingredient of the baguette d’Espard (plus lots and lots of time).

My family, Despard, is Huguenot, d’Esparde when we had to flee France in a hurry; The Huguenots were persecuted throughout seventeenth century and approximately 5000 came to live in Ireland at that time, including the La Touche family; It is after them that the bridge over the Grand Canal at Portobello, local to the Bretzel Bakery, is named.

Spring has suddenly blossomed into summer and at Bloom, (June Bank Holiday weekend) in the Phoenix Park we will officially launch the Baguette d’Espard. Already available in Portobello, where our loyal customers are enjoying the most French & fabulous baguette.

Fitst published on LinkedIn in May 2017


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A highly charged quiet revolution… The Bretzel Bakery Electric Fleet.

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What do Cameron Diaz, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Stephen King and Leonardo DiCaprio have in common? Apart from being rich and famous, they all drive electric cars.

When the Bretzel invested in the little Reva electric car back in 2009 is was seen as a bit of a joke. No one took electric vehicles seriously and although it was ideal for a town runabout, it lacked glamour, normal car comfort and was seen as just cute. Now it is one of the most recognised customer service vehicles in town with more people remembering it than my face! What began as a gimmick rapidly proved itself to be the foretaste of the present fascination with electric cars, vans and bikes.

Since then our electric delivery fleet has grown to include three vans, a tricycle and of course our faithful Reva. Our drivers love them, they are easy to drive and our own onsite charging station does away with time-wasting refuelling. And they are quieter and less polluting than the diesel versions, particularly when charged at off peak times (the networks have spare capacity). Our daily deliveries around the city centre are a joy, particularly on the tricycle which can beat the traffic too.

But best of all the fuel bills required to deliver to our 150 customers in the greater Dublin area have dramatically reduced in the past few years. So what started as a leap into the future has not only become fashionable but has contributed to our bottom line. Our electric vans are helping us towards our goal of being not only a healthy business but an environmentally responsible company.

What has been the most astonishing is the huge progress there has been in the technology recently. The range and battery-life has improved exponentially so that now the spectre of running out of power at awkward moments is a thing of the past. Batteries last much longer and are less expensive. The top of the range Tesla electric car, which I enjoyed driving last week, thanks to Merrion Fleet, has a range of 400km.

First published on LinkedIn in April 2017


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Seeds of Innovation

The seeds and rye flour we use in our multi-seed Country Store are more digestible as we soak them for 24 hours in advance – a bit of soakage breaks down the seed wall – so that I don’t have crack open each flax seeds with my brittle teeth. Also with wheat flour longer fermentation is vital – but lots more on that in later blogs. Today my second blog is the back story to my first product innovation, our Country Store loaf.

Prior to taking over the bakery, my baking was strictly on a domestic level.  In 2003 we were delighted to be mentored by the DIT Bakery School to develop new breads. Country Store was born out of a German-style “Holzfaller” recipe, rye flour, wheat flour and handfuls of healthy seeds; rolled in polenta. The word is from the German “Woodcutter’s bread”, but the energy rich Germanic recipe also looks after the mind and body. Natural Nutrition. The value of these seeds is uncontested. Sesame seed has a range of physical benefits including being a source of certain vitamins and trace elements; the flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have a healthy effect on the heart. Sunflower seeds are a powerful anti-oxidant and are a source of magnesium.

A Country Store Loaf, to you and I, is just good bread… but there is lots of complex natural healthy stuff rolled into a 500g food parcel. And I forgot to mention, it tastes ffantastic & high in fibre (you don’t have to be old to need a good source of fibre).  The experience of creating the first “new” Bretzel Bakery Bread in probably 20 years was invaluable and spurred us all on. Many thanks to the National Bakery School, then down the road in Kevin Street, D8.

We now have fortunately have grown to now have our own in-house technical manager training and developing our baker skills. We continue to collaborate with the DIT, Cathal Brugha Street at a technical and practical level.  My passion is to provide wholesome breads which retain their nutritious qualities whilst maximising flavour. Developing new products and fine-tuning recipes has been a big part of the work since the opening of the second bakery in 2013, with our great bakers continuing the story.

Viel glück

First published by William Despard on LinkedIn March 2017