I was recently asked whether baking – particularly bread making – in Ireland is undergoing a recent resurgence or is it on the way out? Are people too busy/too tired to cook, never mind bake, for themselves? Judgingbytheamountofpeoplethatbakeandblogaboutit, it doesn’t look like it! What do you think?
Food writer, broadcaster and author Caroline Hennessy has been focused on food and writing since editing Ireland’s first food website for RTÉ in 2000. Chair of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, she established the award-winning Bibliocook: All About Food in 2005, is the author of two books about beer and food and has a column in the Irish Examiner in which she writes about small food producers and the ways in which they develop and maintain a sustainable local food system.
I’d say the increasing number of opportunities to buy and taste good bread probably means more people are inspired to have at least the occasional go themselves. Whether they stick with it or not(no pun intended) is where the too tired or too busy factor has its effect. I compromise and do lazy American baking with baking powder most of the time: muffins and so on. Yeast baking is for days with lots of spare time in them, which are kinda scarce.
Where do you find good bread, Julian? I think that you’re right about people’s interest being piqued by tasting the decent stuff. I’m now working in Urru, Mallow where we stock Arbutus bread. We get a lot of people coming in specifically for that and more that pick up a loaf after you’ve explained to them about the variety of breads on offer.Weekends are mainly the time for breadmaking, although – now we’re living out in the middle of the country – it’s still faster to throw a couple of loaves of Brown Soda Bread together than get into the car and drive to the shop. Me being me, I’d far prefer to turn the oven on rather than leave the house!
This got me thinking. Thank you.
Hi there, among my friends (we are mid to late 20’s)there is a great interest in baking and cooking however I am not sure this is across the board .. for instance I made brownies last night and brought them into work to share about .. allot of people in the 40 to 50’s age group (men and women) thought this was hilarious and wasn’t i very cute!?Perhaps it’s a generational thing? Because we are not now “expected” to bake etc we are interested more than, say, our parents? or perhaps it’s the increased interest in healthy eating/ the jamie oliver effect/ increased exposure to foreign lands and their foods?Or maybe the homemade stuff just tastes better, costs less and makes us feel good about ourselves 🙂
M – I liked your musing on the Irish education system and baking. I did Home Economics (Home Ec!) in secondary and the best bit of that class was the baking, although I have to say that I didn’t learn much there that I hadn’t been taught already at the tables of my mother, grandmother and aunts. It is wonderful what a little encouragement at that age does, isn’t it?SJ – I’ve been bringing brownies into work for many years now and people are sometimes rather suspicious of home baking, until they know that you can be trusted to be making something decent! Whenever I make a batch, I give the Husband a box for his workplace too and they always seem to go down very well, after the initial ice has been broken.I think you could be right about the generational thing – I know that the women in our family were expected to fill the tins on Saturday morning for the people who might call in over the weekend and to keep the family going for the rest of the week. And it was always the same things too – Maderia Cake, Sponge Cake, Cherry Loaf, Queencakes. I loved them all, and the whole Saturday ritual but it can’t have been easy when you had to do it, as opposed to choosing to do it like we do now.Do you think cake making is more a woman thing and bread baking has more male adherents?
I love how the food blogging world has so many young people who love baking. When you read the Daring Bakers private blog you can see so many are just learning and need help with some of the simple things us older bloggers take for granted. They have a desire for knowledge and it is wonderful to see their excitement when they are successful.
Well, mostly I bake because I enjoy standing around in the kitchen, getting messy with flour, eggs and sugar – and I have several friends who love doing the same thing (we’re all women in our late 20s to early 30s). People either seem to think we’re a bit weird to put in the effort when you can buy stuff down the shops or they just enjoy any treats we bring to work.But there’s also the fact that I know exactly what ingredients go into the end product – no improvers, stabilisers or preservatives. I know the provenence of, say, the eggs that go into any cake I make, so there’s an ethical side too.There’s also a little bit of me that looks at stuff in the shops and says ‘That’s a rip-off – I think I can make something at home that would cost lest and taste better.’ Sometimes that’s true, sometimes it isn’t – but it’s fun finding out. The wide range of new (to me) ingredients available these days is also very stimulating and I enjoy experimenting with them.Bread-baking is something I do occasionally. I don’t know if it’s a man thing or not – that’s an interesting point. But, just from personal experience, I know more women who are into baking cakes etc than men.
Funny the idea that men cook the bread and women the cakes, reminds me of the days when I was in school when French was taught to girls and German to boys, were these single sex countries?But- I do cook bread, enjoy both baking and eating it and (whisper) I even make my own in France where I find their bread very overrated. Cakes I bake only when we have company,is this conditioning or is it genetic? Good debate there.
As an American (cousin) I have always baked – cookies, cupcakes and brownies mainly. Fun thing to do after school while mom and dad were at work. We often used mixes for ease – but how our tastes change – I used a Betty Crocker mix last night for cookies (curious) and they were terrible – wouldn’t let the husband bring them to work as my ‘baking’ – they tasted storebought.Mainly I bake to relax and to share. But to be honest I don’t share my results with just anybody – only close friends get a taste 😉 I also find that true American tastes are hard to come by in Ireland and for home tastes it needs to be home made. Starting DIT’s bread course tomorrow…we’ll see how ‘serious’ baking goes for me.
For myself, I love making both bread and cakes – but I do know men who are more bread-orientated and women who would never bake bread but love making cakes. In school, however, it was mostly women who got really stuck into making the sourdough, croissants and brioche.I think the Daring Bakers is a great group challenge (Lemon Meringue Pie this month, yum!) – it’s great to have to push yourself to make something that might be outside your comfort zone, especially when you have someone to ask if things go wrong, Barbara!Will have to find out all about that course from you, Carina. Best of luck with it.
Thanks for the link Caroline. I love to bake but I’m not sure exactly where it came from, we always had home-cooked dinners growing up but there wasn’t much baking in my house. Must of what I know was learned through trial and error.btw I’ve tagged you – check out my site for details