When Waterford Federation’s Phyllis McGovern won the National Brown Bread Baking Competition at the National Ploughing Championships last week, the congratulatory phonecalls flooded in and from further afield than Ireland.
The Butlerstown Guild member has been baking brown bread every day for 22 years since she started her B&B business north of Waterford City.
“I make it for the guests in the morning — they love it. The amount of guests who’ve stayed here who sent me good wishes! I got calls from a German couple and from Swiss people who stayed with me a few nights ago.”
The judges of the Aldi-sponsored competition — held in association with the National Ploughing Association (NPA) and ICA — commended Phyllis’s brown bread for its “traditional appearance and perfect texture”.
The mum of two, an ICA member for 30 years, has two recommendations for good brown bread: “I recommend not using the buttermilk straight from the fridge — have it at room temperature. And once the raising agent has been put in the mixture, get it into the oven as fast as possible — don’t leave it hanging around.”
Phyllis, one of 11 members of Butlerstown Guild, says she was overjoyed to win, particularly for her ICA colleagues, who encouraged her to enter.
“One member, Chris Cleary, brought my bread to the first competition, the federation heat held in Crotty’s, Dungarvan. She came back and told me I’d won. It snowballed from there. At An Grianán I won for the region. That was a fantastic plus.”
Relaunched two years ago by the NPA, the brown bread baking competition has been a phenomenal success, receiving entries from each of the 26 counties. The semi-finals were held over the first two days of the Ploughing Championships, with four finalists chosen.
Along with Phyllis, these were Kathleen Dillon Byrne of Carlow Federation, Ann Campbell from Cavan Federation and Roscommon Federation’s Evelin Finn.
Phyllis’s winning brown bread will be stocked in all Aldi Stores in Ireland for a minimum of six months – during this time she will receive a share of the profits, guaranteed to be at least €10,000.
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