I’m finally finished filming for the new series of Kitchen Hero: Great Food For Less! After some fairly full-on days in the kitchen recording back-to-back recipes, we spent a rather enjoyable week filming out and about. One of my highlights was a visit to the Brown Hound Bakery in Drogheda, Co. Louth. A totally unique and incredibly inspirational spot in the most unlikely location, the bakery is the brainchild of owner Jeni who, with her husband Reuven Diaz, runs the fantastic restaurant Eastern Seaboard and Mo’s, a rather unusual takeaway which blows other fast food joints out of the water!
Jeni worked in events in New York, where she met Craig Thompson who created many of the signature baked goods sold at the Brown Hound. In fact, Craig came to Ireland to help train the team of bakers who work behind the scenes. Randomly we discovered that myself and Craig were in the same room together a year earlier unknowingly when I attended the New Amsterdam market in NYC where he was selling his baked goods, so serendipitous was it that I went back to look through my photos and discovered I actually have one of him- the universe works in mysterious ways! He told me that all the cakes and breads featured have distinct memories and people associated with them…. unless they have “the magic”, he says, they aren’t worth baking! The custom-made display cases add to the drama of the produce, particularly the Brown Hound Cake, which is covered in chocolate ganache and topped with a mouthwatering mountain of maple meringue.
The one thing that was most apparent was the love and passion both Jeni and Craig had for the bakery, down to the hand written signs; the beautifully chosen quirky vintage pieces and the caramelised sugar crust on the chocolate banana bread. This passion and attention to detail became even more apparent when we were invited upstairs to the kitchen where Craig gave me a pastry masterclass and we made this wonderful rhubarb tart. If you only ever bake with one pastry recipe again, I beg you to use this recipe; it will change the way you think about pastry forever.