The tradition of yeast bread making in Mount St Joseph Abbey dates back to 1896 and continued until 2010. The last monks to bake the bread were Brothers John and Oliver, who still reside in the Monastery.
Abbey Bread Wholemeal Yeast Mix is based on the original recipe used for over 100 years and I think it has the unique taste and flavour to rival the original!
I would like to thank the Monastic Community at MSJ for its support with this project, with special thanks to Brothers Malachy, John and Oliver for being so generous with their time and encouragement.
How to make your Abbey Bread
1. Pour the mix into a mixing bowl. Using dough hook fitting (or similar) in electric mixer add 700ml of warm water andmix/knead for 5 mins until the dough is soft and a little sticky. This can also be done by hand for 10 mins.
2. With a spatula, turn out dough onto greased baking tray. Leave for 30 mins in warm place (25 degrees C - 28 degrees C) to activate yeast. Cover with tea towel.
3. Remove tea towel and divide mixture in two with a knife.
4. Taking each piece of dough separately, flour your hands and tray. Rotate your dough folding from the outside into the centre 6-8 times to seal. Turn your dough cob upside down to reveal a dome shaped loaf with a smooth surface.
5. Cut a cross about 1cm deep into each loaf with a sharp knife dipped in water and place in warm area for 30 mins for a final proof
6. Place in a preheated fan oven at 220 degrees for 30 mins or non fan oven at 240 degrees for 40 mins
7. Remove from oven, turn upside down and tap for a hollow sound. Cut and enjoy after 15 mins
8. Eat within two days for freshness or slice and freeze
My Grandad was a regular customer for the bread at Mount St Joseph Abbey. He always bought some on his way down from Dublin. I was delighted to present this to him and my Gran the other evening!
The tradition of yeast bread making in Mount St Joseph dates back to 1896 when the first loaves were baked by Brothers Robert and Philip with stoneground flour produced in the nearby mill, also owned by the monks. The value of manual work and self sufficiency in the local economy is central to the Benedictine ethos and therefore the baking and sale of bread fitted in with this. The Rule of St Benedict states:
"When they live by the labour of their hands...then they are truly monks"
Baked in a purpose built, turf fired oven, bread making continued on a daily basis until 2010. The last monks to bake the bread were Brothers John and Oliver, who still reside in the Monastery. At its peak, over 200 loaves a day were produced and the bread had a loyal following among students and the local community. Many people still have fond memories of these beautiful loaves with a crisp crust!
As a student of Cistercian College Roscrea, I am very aware of the importance of the Monastic tradition and heritage. I decided to create this bread mix to honour this tradition and to allow it an opportunity to continue in a different format.
I hope you enjoy your Abbey Bread as much as I have enjoyed developing and creating the product.
As well as the monks in Mount St Joseph Abbey, I have to thank Catherine Leyden and Susan Ziaden, Odlums Research Team as well as Tony Kane, Bakery Services Manager and Graham Tighe, Master Baker at Odlums, who helped me refine the product and allowed me to experience a commercial bakery in Portarlington. Packaging and printing supplies were made possible by Walsh Printing and Walsh Packaging. Logo design was with Ute Duggan. Also a big thank you to my parents for their help and support and to Catherine Smith, my TY Co-ordinator.
The photos for this slideshow were given to me by the following: Brother Oliver from his personal collection and his copy of An Fiolar, Brother Malachy and also Paul Davey, Milltown Garden Centre and Pastman CCR
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