Try the Waterford Blaa – An Irish Specialty

We often link to affiliate products and services that we believe will benefit our readers. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. See our Disclosure page for details.
  4 Comments

If you are ever in a restaurant in southeast Ireland and hear someone say blah, it’s not a comment on the quality of the food. What they're really talking about is a doughy, white bread roll that’s a specialty of the city: the Waterford blaa.

When Dan and I visited Waterford a couple of weeks ago, the blaa was on the menu. Of course we had to try it.

What's a Waterford blaa?

Blaas are made from only five, very inexpensive ingredients:

  • Preservative-free, strong baker’s flour
  • Table salt
  • Compressed yeast
  • Dough conditioner
  • Water

Blaas can be either crusty or soft. Choose your favorite:

  • Crusty – Crunchy at first bite, then chewy with a subtle malt taste and a pleasing bitter aftertaste from the well cooked, dark crust.
  • Soft – Slightly sweet, malty flavor, light but firm in texture and melts in the mouth. (Dan said they remind him of potato rolls.)

History of the Waterford blaa

I'll bet you're wondering how the Waterford blaa got such an odd name. At least, I was. Here's what I learned:

When the French Huguenots settled in Waterford City in the 1690s, they brought the blaa with them. According to legend, they baked a bread product made from leftover pieces of dough, and then liberally dusted it with white flour before baking.

Some say the bakers used the term “blaad” to signify leftover dough. Others say its name comes from blanc, the French word for “white,” due to all the flour it’s covered in. Bottom line: Nobody knows for sure. Pick your favorite story and run with it. 🙂

The blaa caught on in the early 1800s, because it was affordable by the poor local population. It was cheap to produce, so it could be sold for very little money. Soon, the blaa became a part of everyday life, and they still are today. Around 12,000 blaas are baked in Waterford daily, with most sold by the end of lunch!

Because they are usually baked overnight and quickly lose freshness, people usually eat blaas at breakfast time. They are most commonly eaten with just a little butter, but the breakfast blaa (egg, bacon rasher and sausage) is also popular. Chefs also like to use them as a creative outlet, like ours did with Dan's vegetarian eggs Benedict.

A vegetarian eggs Benedict (no ham) on a Waterford blaa

When lunchtime rolls around, locals make blaa sandwiches. Corned beef, Red Lead (a red-colored luncheon meat), and ham and cheese are especially popular among the Irish, though vegetarian fillings are also available.

Waterford blaas are also popular things to eat before a big hurling or soccer match.

What makes blaa unique

Over the years, the Waterford Blaa has been entered into a number of culinary competitions, and has won awards like the prestigious Eurotoque for uniqueness and quality. In 2013 it earned the coveted PGI (protected geographical indication) status. This is a big deal in the E.U. because – just as only sparkling wines from France’s Champagne region is a true “champagne” – only a blaa made in Waterford can legally go by that name,

So if you find a recipe online, your creation can have the identical taste, but it can never be a bona fide Waterford blaa. No one can make a blaa unless you're in Waterford County, and only if it is made by one of the handful of bakeries certified to do so.

Fortunately, you can now enjoy a Waterford blaa all over Ireland. They are now shipped throughout the country.

Inspired?
The following Waterford bakeries (alphabetized list) are among those certified to make an authentic Waterford blaa.

If you'd like to try a blaa without visiting Waterford, you can make something similar using this recipe.

Please share this story with your friends.

Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages has inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

You may also like...

4 thoughts on “Try the Waterford Blaa – An Irish Specialty”

  1. What do you mean, I “have to go to Waterford for the blaa”? I’m hungry particularly for the blaa right now! Glad you had a great time – always a good sign when you’re too fagged to write it all up! I love the way the table was dressed behind wee Juno (once I stopped admiring the lady herself to see beyond her). Might look a tad ostentatious in my place though 😉

    • Last week we tried a couple of variations on eggs benedict, one called eggs florentine with sautéed spinach, eggs and hollandaise sauce, and another called Scottish eggs with smoked salmon instead of the spinach. Both were surprisingly good. Unfortunately, they were served on English muffins instead of blaas.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

shares