Blaa Blaa Blaa

02 Feb 2012

The first time I heard the word Blaa, pronounced “Blah”, I was instantly reminded of our good friend, Gregory. Gregory is a talented screenwriter who has a magnificent way with words, yet in conversation, is quite fond of trailing off his sentences with an endearing “blah blah blah” while still managing to be a charming intellectual. When you move to another country, these are just the types of nuances you miss…the little things…..the blah blah blahs.

The Irish Blaa is a gorgeous yeast bread roll which originated in County Waterford, and is anything but blah. It is the only indigenous Irish yeast roll in existence, and is used primarily as a filled sandwich. After trying a Blaa in Dungarvan a few years ago and loving the flavour and texture, I was thrilled to find the recipe in Niamh Shield’s brilliant cookery book, Comfort & Spice. And just so you know, yes, the dough takes its sweet time to be oven ready, and, yes, it is well worth the wait because these rolls are really some kind of wonderful.

I recently learned that the Waterford Blaa is being considered for the status of European Protected Geographical Integrity that will prevent any similar products produced outside of Waterford being given the same name. The Waterford native Blaa differentiates from a regular bap due to the dusting of flour on top before baking. The Blaa is also free of any preservatives, which means many of the reported 12,000 Blaas produced daily are consumed by Waterford City by lunchtime.

If the EU protected status is achieved, each bakery producing Blaas will under go an annual verification process, which will include a thorough traceability of all ingredients and an inspection of the production method involved in producing the Blaa. Furthermore, The Blaa will be only one of five Irish food products enjoying such status.

We used our freshly baked rolls to make baby Blaas sliders for supper last night which brought a smile to everyone sitting ’round the farmtable…

Niamh’s Blaa recipe from Comfort & Spice

Makes 8 Rolls

10g active dried yeast

10g caster (superfine) sugar

500g extra strong white flour, plus more for dusting

10g sea salt

10g unsalted butter

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 275ml lukewarm water. Ensure that the water is warm, not cold or hot. Leave for 10 minutes. It should get nice and frothy, indicating that the yeast is alive and well.

Sift together the flour and salt, to introduce air. Rub in the butter. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will go from rough to shiny.

Place in a bowl, cover with cling film, and leave in a warm place for45 minutes. Remove from the bowl and knock back , pushing the air out the dough. Rest for 15 minutes, to give the gluten time to relax; this will make shaping easier.

Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Rest for five minutes more, covered.

Dust a baking dish with flour and place in the balls, side by side. Dredge with flour. Leave in a warm place for 50 minutes. Nearly there! Preheat oven to 210/410f/gas mark 6.5. Dredge the blaas with flour for a final time and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and Styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

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35 Responses to “Blaa Blaa Blaa”

  1. Crea Brazil says:

    Sorry to be a critic but these can’t be proper blaas. Blaas famously don’t have any fat (butter) in them!

  2. Nadine says:

    I’ve made this recipe twice. The first time I used regular bread flour bought and sold here in Canada, the second time I used strong white bread flour sent right from Waterford itself! The thing is, neither time did my blaas turn out 🙁 And I have a Waterford taster whom I am attempting to make them for.
    My issues are as follows… they look the part and smell the part, but apparently they are very heavy and the bread inside is not airy. What am I doing wrong??? I have googled “blaas” and been on countless sites…. some say sift the flour, knead for extended periods of time, let rise for certain lengths of time, but then others say minimal kneading and long rise times. I’m about ready to tear my hair out. Any direction would be greatly appreciated!
    I don’t know what your dough is like upon first mix, but my dough is rough, tough, and really hard to work with at first.

  3. […] originally from: I Married an Irish Farmer or see my blog about it […]

  4. Marian Hale says:

    I have made several batches of these delicious blaas, I come from Waterford originally so I know what they should taste like.
    I have reduced the quantity of sugar to one teaspoon as sugar makes the tops too crusty. Also I cook in a fan oven and through trail and error I have found the best temperature to cook them on is 170 c middle shelf of oven.
    I check them after 13 minutes if bottom of blaas don’t sound hollow then I give them another 2 minutes.
    Doing them this way keeps that pale appearance which is unique to these rolls!
    I also cover them with a well ringed out tea towel whilst they are cooling on a wire rack this keeps the blaas lovely and soft.
    They are best eaten on the day of baking, so I freeze them on the day of baking and when needed I give them 2 minutes on medium in a microwave this might vary with each microwave.
    I found a blog about blaas which says they should have no enrichment in the recipe so no butter I suppose and they should include dough improvers in them?
    Does that mean things like soya milk powder, ascorbic acid things like that.
    I know you can buy prepared dough improvers does anybody know a blaa recipe using improvers.
    Also I’ve heard that the blaas can have a malt taste what produces that?
    If anybody can help with these queries I would be so grateful.

  5. […] The Irish blaa (a soft, floury sandwich roll) is so delicious and you can make them at home with this recipe […]

  6. oscar says:

    the theory that blaa comes from blanc has been discounted as nonsense. There was no such thing as white flour at the time blaas came into being so no reason for them to be associated with the word blanc.
    Oscar, Waterford

  7. Brian M says:

    Imen, great recipe, im on my third batch and I think I’ve just about nailed them. Great also that the Blaa has achieved a protected status, further preserving their history in Ireland!
    Love the blog,
    Brian (County Clare)

  8. Pia Sondergaard says:

    I have to make a bunch of theese ,tasted them in Waterford when visiting in august ,they are very similar to an ancient danish bun called “hveder” so I might make a batch of each and invite a few freinds to an irish / danish lunch

  9. Eve says:

    Thank you soo much, i’ve looked everywhere for a recipe, i’m too lazy to go to the bakers, but this one is beautiful! made a half batch to test and they have worked out perfectly, fresh blaa, real butter, ham. life is good!

  10. […] & Spice which Imen kindly shared on her blog (Married An Irish Farmer) recently. Recipe HERE. Tweet This entry was posted in Bread. Bookmark the permalink. ← A Sigh of Relief […]

  11. Adrienne says:

    Imen, thank you for sharing the recipe. I’ve just made and tasted blaas for the first time and they were delicious! Think they may become a favourite weekend bake now. x

  12. […] Recipe from: I Married an Irish Farmer […]

  13. Rebekah says:

    Those look amazing!

  14. lechow says:

    oh those look divine. perfect for a ham and cheddar, or bacon and avocado even. I think it’s gonna be a must try for some beef, Philly cheese-steak style too.
    and thank you!

  15. Those look delicious, I love the floury tops. Bet you enjoyed those sarnies!

  16. I was just reading about Blaas today – the Finance Bill clarified that they have a zero rate for VAT purposes. And the name is a corruption from the French word “blanc” – although as I found this out on RTE’s weekly newsquiz I’m not sure how linguistically accurate it is!

  17. Lucy says:

    These look delicious – what a great name too! I have this book and can’t wait to give this recipe a try now.

  18. Lovely photographs. And the rolls look fantastic. I am not much of a bread baker but I would definitely like to make these.

  19. I love the name – Bla 🙂 And I think I will like these little rolls 🙂

  20. Carol-Anne says:

    I love the pictures Imen 🙂 and Niamh’s recipe is so simple yet amazing results! I will definitely be trying these and spreading the word down under. c.a.

  21. jd collins says:

    Umm, jus one question – what is extra strong white flour?

    • imen says:

      Hi JD, are you in Ireland? It is in all stores here….labelled as such. In the USA I think it is called Bread flour.

      • jd collins says:


        Thank you for asking. I do not live in Ireland, but someday visit and trace my genealogy one day.

        I enjoy your blog very much and delighted to make something that, perhaps, my 3rd great-grandparents would have enjoyed in Dungarvan.
        I did purchase some bread flour.

        Thank you again sharing Ireland with me.

  22. jd collins says:

    Hmm, since my great-grandfather came from Dungarvan before his parents left for the U.S., I think it is only fitting that I make Blaa this weekend.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  23. Ilke says:

    Never knew about the Blaas… I hope it achieves the EU status and stays in the menus for a long time. I will check the book you are talking about. I am due for a new book 🙂

  24. Brent Larson says:

    Since last summer I have learned how to make several recipes for canning sweet and savory jams and jellies which led me to taking an adult education class on artisian bread making. This looks like something that I might try. (though I’ll have to figure out how to convert from metric) Thanks!

  25. O we love our Blaas!! When I first moved here some women told me that they had a higher spend on bread every week because the family couldn’t get through the day without the blaas. No no, sliced pans would never do!!

  26. Niamh says:

    Really lovely and thanks for the kind words re the book! x

  27. Krista says:

    What gorgeous rolls! I love how you combine Irish tradition with modern sliders. 🙂

  28. These blaas look wonderful and I loved the story behind them…I’ve had baps, but never blaas, I look forward to trying them!

  29. Móna Wise says:

    These are gorgeous. I love a nice hot Blaa tight out of the oven and my favourite are from a tiny bakery just outside Waterford City on the way to Dungarvan. Very pretty photos – White Castle Sliders should take a leaf out of your book xx

  30. I’ve scheduled to make these for Sunday morning. Heavenly

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