The Bakery’s Glut Of Homegrown Produce Inspires Hyper-Seasonal Sourdough Specialties That Epitomise Summer
As Dún Artisan Bakery in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford – specialists in all things sourdough – gets set to celebrate its first birthday later this month, Owners Caitriona Keating (Bread Maker) and Fergal Walsh’s (Baker) long-term commitment to self-sustainability is beginning to bear fruit. Their latest offering of hand-crafted naturally leavened specialty sourdough breads and pastries epitomise summer by showcasing the best of the bakery’s own homegrown seasonal produce alongside ingredients like elderflower that they forage themselves locally.
Running a bakery with sustainability at its core and one with very low food miles attached to it was the couple’s raison d’être when it came to opening their own business on Main Street in the popular coastal culinary destination in July 2021.
What they’ve established over the last 12 months is a bakery with a real point of difference. Dún’s hyper-seasonal, provenance-led menu ebbs and flows weekly, often daily, allowing Caitriona and Fergal to constantly create sourdough breads and pastries that embody summer and put the limelight on locally grown ingredients at their peak. These most notably include a glut of their own homegrown summer season fruits and berries, rhubarb, baby beetroot, rainbow chard, kale and many more, all of which are hand-picked in the evenings and at weekends with the help of their four young boys.
Caitriona and Fergal’s passion for baking with the seasons and reducing their carbon footprint as much as possible is best demonstrated by the couple’s half acre plot close to their home in Tramore, Co. Waterford. Over the last five years, they have tirelessly cultivated the land to establish their own crop of over 200 mature berry bushes. This consists of black, red and white currants, summer and autumn raspberries, strawberries, black, red and green gooseberries, and around ten different varieties of tayberries and loganberries. The only fruit currently bought into the bakery from an outside supplier are blueberries, but by next summer Dún will be self-sufficient on this front too, with plans for 40 of their own blueberry bushes to be planted and fruiting by then.
Their land is also home to a patch of wild garlic and thirty fruit trees, ranging from black cherries, figs, apples, and pears, to plums, peaches, quince, and black elder – all of which are proudly showcased in weekly specials on their ever-changing seasonally-inspired menu.
These are all grown using the no dig system – which replicates the forest floor to provide a natural, healthy and undisturbed habitat for the underground ecosystem to thrive underneath – and without the use of additives or pesticides. The only fertiliser used is well rotted compost and a seaweed fertiliser which Caitriona and Fergal forage themselves locally.
Local Artisan Producers:
As well as showcasing their own homegrown produce, Caitriona and Fergal use a combination of quality local, organic and sustainable ingredients, with a concerted focus on nutrition.
Deciding to set up the bakery in Dungarvan has given the pair easy access to an enviable roll call of artisan producers from the surrounding areas. Dún’s pork comes from Newbard Farm’s (less than 30km away in Lismore, Co. Waterford) pasture-raised heritage Oxford Sandy & Black Tamworth pigs, with Caitriona and Fergal reducing the food waste output in the bakery by feeding the animals their leftover sourdough. Minced to Dún’s own specification, Fergal marries the pork with a laminated dough that he makes using crispy chicken skin beaten into butter that runs through the layers in the pastry to create Dún’s indulgent signature sausage roll.
The raw organic milk that they use in their coffees and baking comes from John and Sheena O’Sullivan’s (Ballymacoda Organic Farm) small herd of endangered rare-breed Droimeann cows less than twenty-five minutes away in County Cork. Oak Forest Mills, which uses stone mills to preserve more nutrients and flavour in their flour, is just a thirty-minute drive away in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny. And, the premium butter which makes their pastries so satisfying is supplied by Irish Gourmet Butter in Dunhill, Co. Waterford.
Sustainably and ethically sourced chocolate is supplied by Cacao Barry, free range eggs come from Early Bird Eggs in Ballynaguilkee, Co. Waterford, and salt for their breads and pastries is produced by Oriel Sea Salt up in Clogherhead, Co. Louth. The Proper Chocolate Company in Glasnevin, Dublin makes their hot chocolates.
During summer, the eye-catching pastries counter in Dún will showcase in abundance a glut of Caitriona and Fergal’s own homegrown fruits, berries, and vegetables, with Fergal’s masterpieces blurring the lines between sweet and savoury in the process. On any given day visitors will be able to indulge in two different types of Cruffin. The first is White Chocolate Hazelnut Praline & Tonka Bean Mousse with a Carrot, Orange & Ginger Gel, and Dehydrated Rainbow Carrot & Pistachio. The second is a Red Gooseberry Piña Colada with Red Gooseberry & Pineapple Mint Gel, Coconut, and Candied Lime.
As a celebration of summer, Walsh has created three seasonal Danish Pastries; Blackcurrant, Basil & Star Anise Compote with Italian Meringue, a Green Gooseberry & Elderflower with Lemon Balm Crème Pâtissière, and a Pistachio & Strawberry version – filled with Strawberry & Fennel Gel and a Lemon Balm Crème Pâtissière, and topped with the bakery’s own homegrown strawberries and homemade elderflower syrup.
In addition to these, he also bakes a Rhubarb & Tarragon Tart with Dehydrated Blackcurrant Italian Meringue, a Blueberry & Pink Peppercorn Caraway Compôte Danish with Lemon Balm Crème Pâtissière. One of the bakery’s most popular seasonal savoury pastries to date is their Italian Scallion – laminated croissant dough made with green scallion butter, rolled up to encase Pancetta and Manchego – evoking the nostalgic flavour of King’s Cheese & Onion Crisps.
Other savoury Danishes include a House-made Harissa, Leek, New Season Garai Mara Potato, Basil & Walnut Pesto, Rhubarb & Beetroot Gel with Pea Shoots, and a Black Gooseberry & Grantstown Tomato Salsa Semi Dehydrated, with Pickled Redcurrant.
And that’s not all. Fergal also turns his hand to Almond Croissants, Twice-baked Ferrero Rocher Pain Au Chocolat, Pastel de Nata, a Lemon Tart, Chocolate Rye Brownies, Morning Buns, Kouign-amann, and a Black & Red Currant Cheesecake with an Oat & Almond Crumble.
Caitriona produces as many as thirteen different sourdough breads by hand daily using a variety of flours sourced from four different local mills; Oak Forest Mills (Spelt, Emmer, Einkorn, and Wheat), Dunany Flour (Wholemeal Wheat and Rye), Durrow Mills (Rye), with all bar one supplier, The Little Mill Company (Purple Wheat and Ølands), being organic.
On weekdays Dun’s shelves are filled with a whole host of sourdough breads including everything from Country Wholemeal and a Large White to Baguettes, and Focaccia. And, at weekends, specials include the likes of Ølands with Potato, Leek & Dillisk, Black Sesame & Barley Miso, a 50% Wholemeal Rye with Rye Porridge Sprouted Quinoa, Einkorn & Spelt, and a Beer Rye using recycled hops from the Dungarvan Brewing Company.
Inspired by the seasons, throughout the year Caitriona also creates an endless array of mouth-watering Focaccias. One day it’s House Harissa, Dukkah, Aubergine, Red Pepper & Toons Bridge Dairy Halloumi and the next it’s New Season Potato, Herbs & Lemon Balm, Shallots & Grantstown Tomatoes with Wild Rocket & Walnut Pesto, topped with Rhubarb Leaves & Wild Rocket.
Other popular choices include Prosciutto, Smoked Knockanore Cheese, Grantstown Tomatoes & Wild Garlic Pesto adorned with Rainbow Chard, Tipperary Brie, House Spiced Cranberry & Red Onion Marmalade, and her Nduja, Grantstown Tomatoes, Toons Bridge Dairy Fior di Latte, Chilli, and Red Pepper, topped with Red Russian Kale.
Having recently celebrated its first year in business, in the not-too-distant future the bakery has exciting plans to grow its offering outside of breads and pastries, exploring Caitriona’s passion for fermentation and nutrition to provide an all-round soul food experience.
Commenting on Dún Artisan Bakery’s drive to become as self-sustainable as possible, Owner, Caitriona Keating, said: “We may only be a small bakery doing little things to change the bigger picture, but that’s where it all starts, with personal culpability.
We plan for the needs of the present while keeping one eye on the needs of the future. The field mouse is as important to us as the honeybee. Every season we see through we are constantly considering the next year, suitable pollinators and organic principles to control what we choose to grow.
We are completely at the hands of “pacha mama” (mother nature). Our true goal is to grow alongside it and reap the rewards of a hugely biodiverse site in Tramore. We are doing our bit to combat biodiversity loss by working in harmony with nature to create a wild and wonderful habitat for the little things in our ecosystem that matter so much.
We have even nicknamed our growing beds “the wormery”, as it’s all the little things that matter so much to us when it comes to achieving our core objectives.”
About Dún Artisan Bakery:
Tramore-born Co-Owner & Founder, Fergal Walsh, trained as a Chef in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and has been specialising in sourdough for over a decade. It was while working in the pastry section of a local hotel that he first worked with sourdough. Inspired by the experience, he soon took a job at Arún Bakery in Dublin, which was followed by stints at home and abroad. Fergal has a wealth of knowledge and experience having worked in a French bakery in Brisbane called Valentine’s, Brød in Copenhagen, Firehouse Bakery in Delgany, Co. Wicklow, Seagull Bakery in his hometown of Tramore, Co. Waterford, and Ardkeen Quality Stores in Waterford city, before opening Dún on Main Street in Dungarvan, with his partner, Caitriona Keating.
Caitriona also trained as a Chef in WIT, and worked in many local restaurants and cafes before deciding to return to college to study for a Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts. Keen to explore her passion for nutrition and fermentation, she then completed a Diploma in Nutrition & Health at the Irish Nutrition & Health Institute and had considered going back to do a Masters in Nutrition in order to pursue a career as a Nutritionist. However, it was while working as a Chef at Momo’s Restaurant in Waterford city in 2014/2015 that Caitriona took on a second job working in a local home bakery part-time that she ended up learning how to ferment bread and fell in love with baking.
In 2015 she left her job as Chef to carve out a career in sourdough bread making full-time, which included a role at Seagull Bakery in Tramore, Co. Waterford. Following the birth of her twins in 2018, Caitriona briefly returned to cheffing, working at The Lemon Tree in Dunmore East but it was while there that she and Fergal came to the realisation that it was time to turn his dream of setting up his own seasonally-inspired artisan bakery a reality.
Having fallen in love with an old building, 64 Main Street in Dungarvan – also a former bakery back in the day named Kiely & Co. – the pair set about renovating and upgrading the premises, which took seven months to complete and brought with it many challenges.
A mixture of Covid-19 restrictions, increased import taxes related to Brexit, a lack of skilled tradesmen to complete the fit out, and staff shortages set them back and made setting up their own business a lot more difficult than they could ever have imagined. However, with the help of friends and family, they finally opened their doors for the first time on 9th July 2021 and their sourdough specialities are proving to be a sure-fire hit with locals and visitors to the popular coastal town.