New hard bread could debut by new year

Gary
Gary Kean
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Baker Harold Byrne of Colemans in Corner Brook holds a tray of hard bread he made. — Photo by Gary Kean/The Western Star

CORNER BROOK —

Master baker Harold Byrne is hoping to wrestle the monopoly on hard bread away from Purity Factories Ltd.

Also known as hard tack, the integral ingredient in a traditional scoff of fish and brewis has become quite scarce on grocery stores in Newfoundland and Labrador since Purity workers were locked out in early September.

Byrne, a professional baker for 30 years who heads up the Colemans at the Gardens bakery in Corner Brook, said customer demand inspired him to try and make the biscuit himself.

The ingredients for the bread renowned for its long shelf life are simple: flour, water and salt.

It’s the actual making of hard tack from scratch that left Byrne scratching his head for a while. He now knows there’s a good reason why families in Newfoundland and Labrador who made their own fresh bread and buns usually bought their hard tack.

“I went online and tried probably five, six, or seven recipes with no success,” he said.

“I went to some Newfoundland cookbooks and found a recipe that was similar to what I was looking for. I tried that recipe 15 or 20 times, with different combinations of baking, mixing and came up with a product that resembles and tastes like traditional Newfoundland hard bread.”

“I went to some Newfoundland cookbooks and found a recipe that was similar to what I was looking for. I tried that recipe 15 or 20 times, with different combinations of baking, mixing and came up with a product that resembles and tastes like traditional Newfoundland hard bread.” Master baker Harold Byrne

The online recipes, he added, were for a product that did not look like the hard bread people in this province are used to seeing and which is what Byrne wanted to make.

He said there’s no chance he’ll give up the technique he finally found that worked.

“I’m not really interested in revealing that,” he said. “It took me quite a many hours to refine it, so.”

All he would say is that he may get a special piece of equipment so he doesn’t have to manually make the bread’s characteristic perforations.

Having kept a list of the customers who wanted hard bread, Byrne gave out some samples for them to try and give him feedback. Within the next week or so, his version of the popular food will be on the shelves at Colemans and he expects it to be a good seller.

“Purity put out a good product, but the opportunity arose and it’s a matter of trying to look after your customers,” said Byrne.

“If we can put a quality product out there, then so be it.”

The Western Star

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, CORNER BROOK

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Recent comments

  • redrantingtory
    December 31, 2010 - 18:12

    Dave wrote: "Red these people are not on strike they are locked out by the company" I didn't say they were. I said " This is what happens when workers think they are indispensable and they threaten to go on strike and are then locked out by the company." If you had read my post and understood it you would see that. That's the problem with these comment boards. Way to many people read stuff and go off half cocked. Seems like they read between the lines and make the statement into what they believe.

  • Dave
    December 30, 2010 - 20:40

    Red these people are not on strike they are locked out by the company.Also remember competion makes for a good economy.The company should remember past history of other companies that followed this path.Consumers switch out of necessity and stay for convenience.Good luck Coleman's,it can't be a bad thing.

  • Richard Kearney
    December 30, 2010 - 13:38

    I live in Germany.another Nflder and I ashed Purity Factory to do a one time order and send us a couple of bags at our expence. Seeing that we were no relation to the Pope;they didn't bother to answer with a yes or no.Now,thanks to Corner Brook,God got em. yours truly, a hardtackless Newfoundlander.

  • Debbie Barrett
    December 30, 2010 - 11:49

    I am thrilled to hear that ....good luck in your makings of hard bread because there are alot of greedy people out there buying up what hard bread is around and selling it for ridiculous prices...... I'm glad to see someones persistance to keep it traditional .....thank you and Happy New Year!!!!

  • Gail
    December 30, 2010 - 11:07

    Great ! Good for you Harold ,I can't wait to see it in the stores on the Avalon so we can try it ,don't take too long getting it in all the stores.

  • nasty nate
    December 30, 2010 - 10:03

    Just wait till the union starts to call him a scab and picket his location.

  • redrantingtory
    December 30, 2010 - 09:05

    This is what happens when workers think they are indispensable and they threaten to go on strike and are then locked out by the company. There is always someone who will fill the void left and do just a good of a job if not better. This man saw a needs and decided to fill it. More power to him. Workers have to realize that in todays economy a strike or serious threat of one is a last resort and only to be used in dire situations. Purity will probably farm out it's processing to a mainland company to make it's product and the workers are left out in the cold. Many workers and their union bosses don't think of all the consequences of going on strike all they see is the big bad company while forgetting that the big bad company pays the wages and benefits no matter how small they may seem to be. In the end the workers lose every time. In this case it's only a matter of time before the free market fills the void left by Purity not suppling it's product. That's what's happening here. Someone is filling a need and making a dollar in the process. Meanwhile the strikers are losing and will continue to lose until they decide to try and settle this and not be so strike happy. So you had better be sure you prepare for and know what could happen when you throw out the word strike. Take into account all the ways the company can and will do it's business without you and what the overall cost of a strike could be. In this case, sad to say it's probably 30 or 40 jobs gone for good, as the company couldn't care less. A large miscalculation on the unions part.

  • wavy
    December 30, 2010 - 08:11

    Awesome, good on ya Harold! Way to sieze an opportunity. Can't wait to try some. Can I make one little suggestion? I know it might be a time-saver but forget about that special piece of equipment so you don’t have to manually make the bread’s characteristic perforations. Making those little perforations by hand- THAT'S the special "homemade" touch that makes your product unique and authentic, people will love it and it'll keep customers coming back for more of YOUR hard tack even if/ when Purity Hard Bread comes back online. You are on to something here my friend. I forsee great success for Byrne's Homemade Hard Tack. Just wait until the crowd up along get their hands on this. Best of luck!