Bláithín Herbert with her niece, Faye, in the kitchen Picture: Adrian Butler
CASTLECONNELL already has two All-Ireland winners in Dan and Tom Morrissey and next week they could have a third.
Bláithín Herbert, whose father was the great Limerick and Ahane hurler Mícheál, is in the last eight of the National Brown Bread Baking Competition 2018.
The two semi-finals and final take place at next week’s National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore. The winner is guaranteed at least €10,00 in the Aldi and ICA-run competition. There could be a new catchphrase, instead of “Come on Ahane the spuds are boiling” it could be “Come on Ahane, Bláithín’s bread is baking!”.
Bláithín, of Herbert’s Pub, said her neighbour Donnacha Corrigan read about the competition. The big fan of Bláithín’s brown bread prevailed upon her to bake him a loaf.
“He dropped it in to Aldi in Mitchelstown where they were accepting entries. I said he was wasting his time. Then I got a phone call saying that I had been picked to go through to the semi-final. I could hardly believe it,” said Bláithín, who is the only Limerick lady in the competition. There would have been thousands of loaves put forward but hers made the final eight.
What sets her brown bread apart?
“I have no idea what makes my bread different! How do I know? I think everybody can make bread. The recipe is tweaked from a friend from Kerry,” said Bláithín, who is getting great support from her regulars.
“They are cheering me on. I throw some brown bread and ham out to them when needs be,” she laughed.
Bláithín, who likes hers with real butter, is up to her eyes in flour as she has been baking and baking and baking.
“It was a bit of craic until I had to write a recipe. People who write recipes have gone way up in my estimation. It is one thing standing up and putting a fistful of this and fistful of that into it but writing it down is another story altogether.”
But it will be all worthwhile if she wins first place next week.
As well as the title of Ireland’s best baker, the winner’s brown bread will also be stocked in all Aldi Stores in Ireland for a minimum of six months. They will receive a share of the profits, guaranteed to be at least €10,000.
Bláithín’s recipe could be another All-Ireland success for the parish in 2018.