Let them eat cake, says leading Dublin sourdough baker

Expansion plans at Bread 41 include cake baking, mobile sales and additional restaurant space

Eoin Cluskey of Bread 41 in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Eoin Cluskey of Bread 41 in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

The Dublin organic sourdough bakery Bread 41 is branching out into cakes, starting this week. Orders are now being taken online, with the first cakes ready for collection from the Pearse Street shop next Sunday, which is also Mother’s Day.

There are four cakes and a pie in the launch range: a chocolate rye sponge, a  lemon meringue cake, a rhubarb and vanilla sponge, a celebration chiffon sponge with lemon cream and lemon curd, sprinkles and popping candy, and a chocolate pie. All cakes will be available in 6in and 9in versions, costing between €45 and  €62; the pie is a 12in one at €22.50. Seasonal specials will also be introduced from time to time, and the pastry chefs are experimenting with alternative grains and sugars for the cakes.

Expansion into new premises behind Bread 41 move to cake baking.
Expansion into new premises behind Bread 41 move to cake baking

Eoin Cluskey, head baker and owner of Bread 41, sees the move into cake baking as a natural progression for the business. “I’ve said from day one that I wanted to give real bread to everyone, and with that a decent pastry, something that is fermented and isn’t laced with sugar or chemicals. But it requires a lot of space and a lot of staff, and I’m learning that very fast. We just hired four new pastry chefs in the past three weeks and we are looking for bakers.”

The development has been made possible with the expansion of Bread 41 into the premises next door to the original shop, cafe and bakery, at 41 Pearse Street in Dublin 2. “We were able to procure funding of €50,000 from Enterprise Ireland, €25,000 of which is grant support and the balance payable on a low interest rate over the next five years, while we combined this with our own self-financing to launch a state-of-the-art pastry production unit.” The new space, called Bread 41 Lab, opened last month. When lockdown restrictions are removed, it will also include a restaurant.

Chocolate rye cake.
Chocolate rye cake

The move is the latest in several reconfigurations of the company’s business model due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Our mantra since Covid kicked in with the original Level 5 lockdown, in March last year, was: ‘The cavalry are not coming’,” says Cluskey.

To cope with the drop in demand from customers in the city, as well as from restaurants, cafes and coffee shops it had been supplying, home delivery was made available across a wide area of Dublin city and county, from Clontarf to Dún Laoghaire and west to Dundrum.

Sales are also made from the company’s bread van, a converted 1958 electric milk float, which is parked at the Niamh Olaf food market in Stillorgan on Fridays and at Blackrock market on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as from the Pearse Street premises. A second milk float is on order, and when it is delivered it will be open in Blackrock from Wednesday to Sunday, “to test the water to see if we want to go into bricks and mortar or not,” Cluskey says.

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