Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wood Fired Oven Conference and Celebration at VIU Oct 23-25 2009

Here are some details of the conference and celebration at VIU on Wood Fired Ovens and Artisan Baking.

Your Fellow Vancouver Island Bakers & Pastry Chefs
Baking Association of Canada – B.C. Chapter, Island Committee
Vancouver Island University
(formerly Malaspina University-College)

Are Planning a Celebration of our Brick Oven Friday, October 23, 2009 and
Two Days of Brick Oven Workshops on
October 24 and 25, 2009

At Vancouver Island University, Malaspina Campus
Building 185, 900 5th Street, Nanaimo, BC (

Join us for this inaugural event! Celebrate the completion of our beautiful brick oven and enjoy a complimentary brick oven dinner from 4-8 PM on Friday.

Come back on Saturday and Sunday from 8AM-4PM for workshops on using brick ovens, baking artisan breads and other products in brick ovens, milling and grains and much more. Presenting artisans include Tracy Muzzolini of Team Canada, Richard Miscovich of the Bread Bakers Guild of America and instructor at Johnson and Whales UniversityNick Versteeg of DV Cuisine, Paul McEwan from Slow Rise Bakery, John MacKenzie of Anita’s Organics, and presentations by VCC and VIU Pastry and Baking Departments.
Lunch included.

Space limited to 50 participants max., please register early
Reg Fee:$200 pp including GST or $100 pp for single day. Half-price for students currently enrolled in a baking/culinary program.
Cheques: Payable to B.A.C.
Mail to: B.A.C. Suite 202 – 7895 Tranmere Dr., Mississauga ON L5S 1V9

Or fill out the information below and fax this form to: 1-905-405-0993
Registrant Name:____________________ Company/Bakery/School_____________________
Address:______________________________________Phone Number_________________
Please circle the card type: Visa / Mastercard
Card Number: ____________________________ Expiry: __________________________
Cardholder: __________________________ Signature: ____________________________

For more information about payment please e-mail
Or call 1 888 674 2253 ext 21

Contacts in Nanaimo: or

Back Home and Our Wood FIred Oven

One of the things I was monitoring during my trip was the ongoing progress of the wood-fired oven at VIU. Well, we fired it in April and had some pretty good conflagrations going. Until the fence is built we cant fire it at night so that will have to wait for a few weeks. Results so far have been tasty. She definitely has tamed us!

Below is a mural done by one of the art students at VIU Jeanie Wallace. This detial was inspired (as we all are) by Alan Scott

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nanaimo Bar Wars?

Unfortunate Accident after eating 12 Nanaimo Bars!

Well, Well, Well. All I wanted to do was defend the Heritage Nanaimo Bar, and now I have to watch out for Amanda Cohen from the so called 'hip' restaurant, Dirt Candy in New York City (oooh la bloody lah!).
(I'm sorry Mum, apparently it IS ok for us to eat dirt after all!)

So, Amanda, the Canadian owner and Chef, is coming to find me in her Barbie Dream Car, and if you don't believe me, follow her blog entry...second link below. The original letter, (first link below) was inspired by an article on the front page of the Victoria Times Colonist (July 18th last link below).

Well, all good tongue in cheek stuff, Amanda and I are now BFFs (baking fiends forever?) and she is invited to my grandson's bar-mitzva, but remember: A Nanaimo Bar is a sickly, oversweet, fattening, unbaked, barely digestable, 3 layered conncoction using custard powder as a base for the center. It has been causing stomach groans and delight for over 50 years...and it is ours, fellow Nanaimoans, ours......any change in the recipe has to be approved by Nanaimo City Council.....
So go and visit Amanda in NYC and check out her wonderful creations, even eat a sweet pea and mint 'whatsitcalled', and say 'hello' from Nanaimo!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunrise at Cape Byron: Last Day in Australia; Thanks to all!

Just to put things in perspective, we drove up to the lighthouse at Cape Byron to watch the sunrise. Cape Byron is the easternmost point of Australia.
Thank you to all those that made our trip incredible. We will always have fond memories of our visit to Australia.

First peek of the new dawn.

No comment.............

The lighthouse at Cape Byron

still no comment!

Looking back to Cape Byron from Coolomon Scenic drive just after sunrise.

Flour and Sweet Southport QLD

My last gig was with the folks at Flour Bakery in the Brickyards Market in Southport, Queensland. I enjoyed 2 shifts in their wonderful bakery. Jesse Downes and his team showed me a lot of interesting products. I was 'taken to school' on my hand moulding knuckles no aggressive de-gassing!

Jesse also looks after the sister shop in the market called 'Sweet' which offers another line of desserts and chocolates.

Great products from both shops!

Here is a link to their page at the Sourdough Companion website.

PS: Jesse Downes, who is the talented and creative production manager at Flour is the son of the legendary John Downes, often called the granfather of Australian sourdough and promoter of many wood-fired brick ovens and of Natural Tucker fame. Jesse looks like becoming his own legend!

Display case at 'Sweet'



Display case at 'Sweet'

'Flour' breads'

'Flour' Viennoiserie

'Flour' desserts

'Flour' desserts

'Flour' from behind the counter

Jesse practising his chocolate garnishes.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

L'Ultime Byron Bay

Byron Bay has some great restaurants, but is not well served by bakeries. L'Ultime retail outlet, a French bakery run by David, is a great addition to this bustling town. Although the boulangerie/patisserrie is tiny, one feels that one has just stepped into a little piece of Paris. The production facility is based in the Arts and Industrial estate on the outskirts of the city.

Apple Louvres under production

Ready to use butter puff pastry. Available in different thicknesses

No more aluminium cans....1 Kilo in a rippable package

Praline making...

Gas-fired, oil jacket kettle with paddle.

Worlds oldest in use 10 qt Hobart mixer, still in use!

Filled baguettes ready to go, all house-made fillings including garnishes and mayonaise.

St Tropienne, a traditional breakfast bakery popular in St Trop. Basically a brioche slab split and filled with orange blossom flavoured pastry cream, and cut into wedges.

Jaconde Sponge for gateau slices.

David et moi dans le patisserrie, sous laTour Eifel.

Display case.

Retail Area

Best baguette in Byron Bay!

Frest fruit tartes.

Individual brioches cooling.

Pear frangipain tarte.

Tarte production.

Tarte aux Fraises.

Selection of pastries for the morning.

Spelt pain de campagne.

Spelt Baguette.

Pain de Campagne.

Brioche ready to bake.

Danish varieties ready to bake.

Rotating rack oven.

Morning prep.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery, Berry NSW

This visit to Berry was one of the hi-lights of my trip. 2 Brothers Joost and Jelle renovated an old bakery in Berry and built an Alan Scott wood fired oven. When that became too small they decided to build 2 bigger A/S ovens up the road. I had a wonderful afternoon and evening at their bakery.

So simple...Bricks, wood, organic flour water salt.....that's pretty much it!

Oh, and ovens that they start baking at 330 that is hot and the baguettes were baked in less than 10 minutes.

Thanks to John Baker as well, an instructor from the TAFE at Wollongong, who generously offered us accommodation in Berry

History of the bakery

Cafe and storefront

spoils from the evening bake

Nice pastry.

Joost and myself.

Crackling from the oven.

Peeling the baguettes.

Doesn't look like 320 C!

This has got to be the quintessential 'bakedinaustralia' shot!

Double-barrelled oven loading!



10Kg tubs of kneaded sourdough enjoying their 5 hours of 'floor time'

Ready to rake out the coals.

Close to 400 C.

Bannetons made by lining reasonably priced market baskets with hair nets for resting the dough during final proof.

Slow mixer. Gentle. Note the automatic bowl scraper.

Whole sourdough spelt.

Ovens.....fired 6 hours earlier.

The cafe, showing the original Alan Scott oven. The door was reclaimed from the original 1920's brick oven that existed but was disused on the premises.

Why this blog.....

My photo
January to March 2009. I was on Professional Development leave from my teaching Job at the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island Universtity. I chose to take a 3 month leave to visit bakeries and teachng institutions in Australia. Thank you to VIU and my union (BCGEU) for supporting this venture. The aim of this blog was to keep an ongoing diary of my experiences and share them with my students and colleagues. This sure beats coming up with a report and slide show months later. I mean "FRESH" is what baking is all about! Learned to bake back in 1978....making granola...but that is another story. .