Everyone has been very philosophical about the last 3 months of my life and the very dramatic events that changed the course of my work career. I appreciate the support and words of wisdom that have been offered to me not only from old colleages, friends but local people in my community.
Three months ago I had a business partner, a struggling but good cafe & bakery and a new night time restaurant. I made a decision to take two employees on a market research trip to Firehouse bakery. We needed to brainstorm on how to improve our business and get some fresh ideas from this hip bakery in Delgany Co. Wicklow. We had only 3 days previously decided to pull the plug on our nighttime restaurant venture. We were going to focus on the daytime business which had been overshadowed by the restaurant for the last year.
We left the bakery inspired and ready to start putting our ideas into action. Never did I imagine that, as we went back to work the next day that our ideas would offend but be the end of my business relationship with my then partner. But it did….
Now I think of time divided into two intervals Before Firehouse and After Firehouse.
Ironically Firehouse Bakery is where I first went for a breakfast meeting with my now ex Business partner when we decided to become partners 18 months earlier. I also attended their baking class on Heir Island, Cork a few years ago with my long suffering husband. It is such an amazing day out. I highly recommend it for baking enthusiasts.
Well I am here now and this blog is about AFTER FIREHOUSE!
One small Before Firehouse fact. I had applied and been accepted to a DIT (TU Dublin) Baking Degree course in 2018 but had decided to defer because in the interim of accepting my place and starting, I went into partnership and I would not be able to commit to the degree course. A week before Firehouse I received an offer to take up my deferred place for 2019/2020. I had decided I was not going to accept as I was too busy with the business. The deadline to decline/accept the offer was 24 hours after Firehouse. This is an example of the universe conspiring for you. Thank you Paolo Coehlo !
Now three months later I just finished my 3rd week of TU Dublin (formally DIT ) as a Baking and Pastry Arts Mature student. I am well mature -48 years old mature.
The most difficult part to date of the return to my education, other than that the average age is 30 years younger than me, has to be the commute. I was quite spoilt . I lived 5 minutes away from my job for the last 3 years. I live 35 km from Dublin so I am navigating public transportation again . I suffer from motion sickness so the bus is my least favorite option but at times my only option. I live a 15 minutes drive from the nearest train station which is my preferred form of transportation but I was unfortunate during my first week of college, while parked at the train station someone stole my catalytic converter. This is apparently a thing that happens frequently but until it happened to me I was oblivious to this kind of vehicle vandalism for scrap metal. Fucking bastards.
I am back to baking basics in college and that is always a good place to be when you’ve lost your way a bit. I’m still trying to work out what next but reminding myself to stay grounded in what I am doing now and not worry too much about my culinary future.
I have a bit of baking “karma” bestowed on me recently. The first three weeks in our “Morning goods” baking class has involved SCONES! Dreaded scones. During my before firehouse days, we made just under 200 scones a week , originally by hand then progressed to making them in a small spiral mixer and hand cut them out. Poor Zoë ( my before firehouse workwife now my baking friend ) usually was landed with the shit scone job but sometimes I would help or make them. Making scones is not that exciting nor are they to eat! Sorry to all the scone lovers out there.
So there I am 48 years old , ex- business owner, at the bottom of the food chain of Culinary School and making scones. I’m sure there is a moral( and point) to this story? Despite my moaning about the commute and baking scones, I am loving the experience of being in Culinary School. Baking is what I am meant to be doing in one form or another. I’ve dabbled in other professions but when I decided I wanted to bake in 2014 everything made sense. I am not the best baker. I am still learning everyday. I still screw up on a regular basis. My cakes often look like one of my kids made them . Cake decorating is not my strong point nor probably will never be but they taste damn good and that’s what counts!
Finally I’d like to include this savory scone recipe as an offering to the baking gods for all my hateful scone comments . Enjoy !
Cheese and Jalapeño Scone Recipe
- 175g plain flour
- 175g strong flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bread soda
- 50g butter, at room temperature
- 25g mature cheddar cheese, grated
- 20 g parmesan, grated
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 large egg 70g
- 260g Buttermilk
- 3-4 jalapeño (a mix of red and green works well), diced
- 4 pieces of sun dried tomato, diced
- Pre heat your oven to 220 C *Reduce to 210 when loading oven with scones
- Place some grease proof paper on a large baking tray.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, chilli powder, paprika and pepper together
- Add the butter, then rub it in with your finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the cheese, chillis and sun dried tomato
- In a small jug, beat the egg and then add the milk
- Slowly tip the milk into your flour mix and stir well until it forms a dough.
- Lightly knead the dough to make sure it’s all combined.
- On a floured work surface, roll out the dough so that its about 2 to 2.5cm thick. Careful not to add too much flour
- Using a round cutter, cut out your scones, combining any left overs and re rolling. Only this once as if they are over handled they lose there lovely fluffy texture.
- Place the scones on your tray, brush with egg wash.
- *Bake for 12-15 minutes
- Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack and leave to cool