Elmhurst Cottage Farm
The first eight month’s of Scéal’s life as a bakery were spent on Elmhurst Cottage Farm. Nestled in between Glasnevin and Ballymun lies a one acre organic small holding, surrounded by endless fields of wheat, barley and potatoes. The first time we visited the farm and to view the tiny little bakery on the land we were blown away. Like everyone who arrives at Elmhurst for the first time we were in awe of its open space, the calm air and sheer peacefulness of the land. It’s an unknown gem in Dublin and we hope it never changes in the changing tides of Dublin city.
This green oasis is run by our gorgeous friends Rossa and Nadja. Like us, Elmhurst Cottage Farm was a new transition and way of life for them. There was comfort in knowing we were starting our journey with Scéal and the leap into the unknown of running a food business with friends who were on a similar path. Impromptu breaks for coffee and cake, family breakfasts on the grass among the berry bushes, lunches enjoying the produce from the farm all lead to deep chats about the difficulties, woes and challenges of starting your own business from the ground up.
In the depths of winter we moved into our bakery, 14 feet by 10 feet, no bigger then a garden shed, with electricity and running water. We creatively shuffled our second hand equipment around to make the most out of the space, invested a small sum in a Rofco bread oven and we began baking. Very small to begin with, only a handful of loaves a week but the dream was in motion.
Elmhurst helped shape and root what we hoped Scéal would become. We try our utmost to source Irish, seasonal ingredients and if they’re locally grown even better. Starting out on Elmhurst Farm meant we were surrounded by flavours, colours, textures and smells which directly influenced our choices for new pastries and weekly sourdoughs. There was pure excitement come February when the first rhubarb was ready for harvesting, or when the chive flowers began to bloom and new sourdough flavours come flooding in. During the summer months we were inundated with crops of black currants, red currants, raspberries, loganberries, strawberries and the most incredible Hinnomaki red gooseberries. The possibilities for market stall items was endless, scribbling notes everywhere of potential flavoring combinations. We made batches of jams, preserves and compotes to try capture the essences of summer in the berry gems. Elderflower soon began to flower and we spent mornings big floral heads to be steeped in syrup. As the seasons began to shift into the cooler months so did the bounty of the farm, the berry season ended and we moved towards pears, damsons, apples and quince and earthy woody herbs.
As the summer months ended we realised we were quickly going to out grow our little bakery. We needed more space for ovens, fridge space for over night fermentation of doughs and storage for grains and flours. So when September came around we bid a farewell to the farm, to our dear friends, to the chicks and to the ducks and started the next stage of our journey with Scéal in a larger production unit.
We miss the farm dearly and our forever grateful to Nad and Rossa for giving us the opportunity to grow our bakery dream from their little garden portacabin. Xx
All photos by Shantanu Starick http://shantanustarick.com/