Traditional Irish soft buns, made famous as Waterford Blaa. Light in texture, but sturdy enough for any use, they are sure to become a favourite. These buns are also Vegan.
Yes, it’s an interesting name, but it’s a fabulous bun! And while I’m sharing this today in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day, this is a bun that is worthy of being enjoyed year round.
The Irish Blaa is typically a soft, tender and floury white bun, most well known as Waterford Blaa. (Apparently, you can only call them that if they are actually made in Waterford, Ireland though, so I’ll just call them Irish :)
By any name though, these delicious buns are both light in texture and sturdy, making them a perfectly versatile bun.
Three great ways to enjoy your Irish Blaa
- Toasted with butter and jam.
- As a great sandwich bun. (These buns are so light enough in texture that they won’t feel heavy eating them, but they are also sturdy enough to hold all your favourite sandwich fillings.)
- As a burger bun! Yes, these soft, squishy buns make great burger buns.
Flour – You can use either bread flour or all purpose flour, with bread flour being the preferred option. You may need to use a bit more flour to bring the dough together, if using all purpose flour.
Yeast – You can use either Active Dry or regular Instant Yeast (such as SAF Brand Instant Yeast) for these buns. Quick or rapid-rising yeast is not recommended.
Shortening – This would be the solid, vegetable shortening, such as Crisco™ I know there is still a lot of hesitancy about shortening, but there really shouldn’t be and in this case, it contributes to the lovely light texture of these buns. I recommend shortening if possible. If you don’t have or want to use shortening, you can replace with the same amount of softened butter, though it will have some effect on the texture of the finished buns.
You will also need – water, salt and just 1 tsp of sugar.
1. Irish Blaa start with a quite moist dough, so resist the urge to add too much flour in the mixing bowl, to keep the wonderful light texture. That said, it should be kneadable, so add a little flour on the bench if dough is too sticky to knead. Form into a ball and place to rise until doubled.
2. Once the dough has risen, portion out into pieces. I went with 6 here, to make a bit larger buns, that work nicely for sandwiches or burgers, too. Go for 8 if you’d smaller buns.
3. One of the things that characterizes Blaa is a square-ish shape, so once you have formed the dough into balls, flatten and press into a bit more square-ish shape. I didn’t square mine up too much here, but if you want yours really square, you can stretch a bit more into a square by tugging on opposite corners a bit, if you like. The other thing that characterizes Blaa is dusting in flour, so don’t skimp on that, both on the work surface and in the pan.
4. Place the formed rolls into a pan that will just hold them, with only a bit of space between each one, so that they will rise into each other first, and then rise up. If the pan is too large, they will continue to spread out and not up. Once risen in the pan, bake until just lightly coloured. Blaa are generally quite light in colour and not golden.
How to Store
Irish Blaa are best within 24 hours of baking, though they will keep at room temperature for a couple of days. They do freeze beautifully, so you may want to freeze what you can’t eat up right away and enjoy them from the freezer as needed.
Get the Recipe: Irish Blaa
- 1 cup lukewarm water, about 105F (235g)
- 1 tsp Active Dry or Instant Yeast, not rapid or quick-rising
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 Tbsp shortening, recommended for best results, but you can substitute an equal amount of butter (8g)
- 2 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour, approximately (350g)
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook, add the lukewarm water. Sprinkle in the yeast and the white sugar. Stir and let stand 5 minutes. Add the salt and shortening, along with 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix to combine well, scraping down the bowl to incorporate the flour, if necessary. Begin adding the last 1 cup of flour in small increments, mixing well between each addition, until the dough wraps the kneading hook and cleans the bowl. The dough may be a bit sticky still at the bottom of the bowl, but resist the urge to add too much flour in the bowl. You can always add a bit more on the counter.
- Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead the dough briefly, adding more flour only if the dough is sticking to the surface or your hands. Form into a ball and place into a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes.
- Meanwhile, generously flour a 7x11-inch baking pan and set aside. *Alternately, try an 8 or 9-inch round baking pan, placing 5 buns around the outside and one in the centre or any size pan that holds all the buns with just a small bit of space around each one.
- Remove dough to a well floured work surface and gently deflate. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. (*I like to weigh the whole dough ball and then calculate the weight for each of 6 buns. Mine here were 98g each). Take one piece of dough and Form into a ball, then roll it around in the flour on the work surface a bit. Flatten the ball slightly and if desired, coax into more of a square shape. Place into floured baking pan. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces, placing them into the baking pan in 3 rows of 2 across, leaving a small 1/4-inch-ish space between the buns and the sides of the pan.
- Cover the pan with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 360F (not convection).
- When buns are doubled, remove the towel and dust a bit more flour on top of the buns using a fine sieve.
- Bake in the preheated over for about 23-25 minutes, or until the sound hollow when tapped and are just very lightly golden. You want them to be quite light in colour. *See notes for baking time and temperature tweaks for these buns.
- Remove from the oven and immediately remove buns from the baking pan in one large piece. Allow to cool completely.