A bakery’s rise to success

Posted on: 5th August, 2016

Category: Food & Wine

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Above: Christian and Sórcha

In the 1970s, a young German couple Andreas and Ingrid Haubold visited Ireland on their honeymoon. They fell in love with the rain and the lush green fields of Ireland and decided to make Ireland their home. They bought a house in West Cork, set up a business and raised their family here. For the past 23 years, the family bakery, The Baking Emporium Ltd has supplied the people of West Cork and beyond with the best of continental confectionary and breads. In recent months, the family has decided to expand the business with the opening of a new shop in Clonakilty town. The beautiful new shopfront is actually located in the premises that housed Bateman’s Bakery in the 1900s. With the smell of freshly baked bread now a regular part of Ashe Street again, it’s difficult to resist a stroll in this direction. Tantalising cakes, breads of all shapes, sizes and ingredients and even freshly brewed coffee will greet you on arrival. Behind the counter, between the hours of 8am and 5pm, five days a week (Tuesday to Saturday), Christian Haubold, who is every bit as passionate about bread making as his parents, is ready to assist in your selection of delicious eats!

This food story begins with Bridgemount House, a gourmet restaurant set up by the Haubolds in Dunmanway in the late 70s. When the demand for confectionary increased, Andreas and Ingrid decided to close the restaurant and concentrate their efforts on the bakery. “My father always wanted to be a chef,’ explains Christian “but his parents wanted him to do an apprenticeship with the bank.” This is where Andreas and Ingrid met. After moving to Berlin, Andreas eventually followed his dreams and trained as a chef. The couple decided to move over to Ireland after seeing a property advert in one of the German Sunday newspapers. They had always had a soft spot in their hearts for the country since the two-week holiday they spent there a few years earlier. Andreas and Ingrid sold their apartment in Berlin and moved to Ireland. They found Bridgemount House in Dunmanway and decided to settle there. Both their children, Nikolai and Christian, grew up in the restaurant and bakery.

Over the years, bakers from all around the word have worked at The Baking Emporium, each and every one leaving their own recipes and fingerprint behind. Today, the master bakers are Igor and Miro, with Catherine, Alexandra and Ingrid making the cakes. Andreas is on hand always and in charge of the savoury side. “Figuratively speaking, his fingers are in every bowl,” says Christian laughing. Sórcha, Christian’s girlfriend has become involved in the business too. A vegan and coeliac, she is responsible for introducing more gluten free products, containing rice or potato flour at the bakery.

From traditional Irish soda breads, scones and pan breads to artisan and wood fired breads like rye and spelt sourdoughs, baguettes and focaccias, there is bread to suit all tastes and meals. “Celebrity baker and chef Paul Hollywood recently suggested you should always choose the bread first and ask yourself what meal would complement this bread. This is how we have always planned our meals,” says Sórcha.

None of the breads are sliced in order to extend the shelf life. “We’re also very conscious of waste and try to reduce it as much as possible,” says Christian. A small private farm down the road from the bakery takes leftovers at the end of the week. “They have two donkeys that love our crackers and soda bread,” says Christian. “We also make our own breadcrumbs and introduce those into the next day’s mixture. It’s a very common practice in German bakeries, as they act as a natural preservative and add flavour to the breads.”

The Swiss sourdough is one of the more popular breads on the shelf. “This is the one that we introduce people to sourdough with,” explains Christian. “It has 10 per cent rye, 90 per cent wheat and it’s dairy free. It has the longevity and texture of sourdough without the tangy taste that takes a bit of getting used to for most people. It’s like a cheeseboard; you work your way up toward the stronger cheeses. People slow move up the ladder to the 80 per cent rye bread.”

Those with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed either. The Baking Emporium has long been renowned for its cakes with its coffee, carrot and chocolate cake recipes and apple strudel some of the favourites. There is also a mouthwatering selection of pastries.

Passionate about supporting small artisan producers, the shelves are stocked with all sorts of delicious foods, from Kvegks, a German cracker, which are not only organic, vegan, palm oil free but also a social enterprise, hiring people with physical and intellectual disabilities to jams from Cork, pastas from Italy and pate from Germany — all things that complement a meal of bread!

Although still selling at 12 farmers markets, Christian is at the shop in Clonakilty every morning bright and early, ready to open at 8am sharp. “We’ve really settled in now and regular customers are usually waiting at the door for their croissants, scones, pastries and bread,” he says. Remember it’s the early bird get’s the bread!

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