Monday, January 26, 2009

Sol Breads 2

Sol Breads, Brisbane Jan 22 2009

Spent the day with Rob Gils and crew at Sol in Brisbane. For all you tall guys, the work benches were 6 inches higher than ours, so no back strain. They let me work as a bench hand. Hard to keep up with the young guns! (and Marco!)

No yeast here, all sourdough including the gluten free.

All made by hand as well, itermediate shaping, boarded and rested then final shaping. Most of the proofing is done in covered wagons, then the free form loaves are hand deposited on loaders as well.
Marco and I on the bench at Sol Breads
Sol's cafe out front of the bakery. All gluten free offer.ings here

Organic Pumpkins for the Pumpkin Bread. These are washed, roasted and de-stemmed, then thrown in the mix whole, seeds skin and all!

Thanks to Sol Breads for putting up with me! Here is a link to their web-site:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Biscotti Madness Wildbite Byron Bay

I had a wonderful day with Hans, Maria and Crew making biscotti. Here are some pics, I will add dialogue later.
Here is a link to the Wildbite website.
Hans is also a culinary instrauctor at Ashmore TAFE,
where I am going today to check out

Goanna Bakery

A Goanna is a large lizzardy creature. Goanna Bakery is a wonderful friendly whole foods bakery/cafe in the rolling hills of Lismore NSW.
I enjoyed a day working with Jeff and Lothar and their staff and will be going back. Here are some pictures, I will add dialogue later.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Newrybar....Coincidence or just bakery magic?

Jan 19th:
So I am making my calls on Monday setting up future bakery visits. It was suggested that I visit 'Flour' bakery, in Southport QLD. I phoned and had a very pleasant chat with the manager, Jesse.
Later in the day, at Jordans, Liam was showing me an article in the Australian Baking Business magazine about the grandfather of Australian sourdough, John Downes. During the course of our conversation I mentioned connecting with Jesse at "Flour" and Liam said John was Jesse's dad!
Filed that away, and also a bit of info about a 150 year old brick oven in Newrybar that John used to bake in....

Fast forward....I have to pick up Patsy in Mulum. We chat about our day and she informs me that she would like to go to a small village called got it...Newrybar, on the way home!
Well, small here means about 4 houses, a general store, an antique store and a garage, and a restaurant.
It was a hot quiet Australian afternoon. I wandered up to the wooden boardwalk of the restaurant called Harvest. I enquired if anyone knew of a bakery that used to be around here, and was informed by the hostess, that there was an old brick oven in the back building, handed us the keys and invited us to go and look.
WOW! there it was, in the low light of this big shed, still in it's original place.....huge, I estimate about 12 feet long and 8 wide. You couldn't see the back and the camera barely picked it the depth. It is an indirect fired oven and had a beautiful casting of a wheat sheaf on the side panels.
How many thousands of loaves had that beast baked over the years?
Very special moment..................!

Check out the lenght of the peels!

Indirect firebox

Full Frontal!
The wheatsheaf detail on the steel side panels.

Jordan's Bread and Pastries, Mullumbimby, NSW

Jan 19th:

Made lots of great contacts yesterday, and this looks like it is shaping up to be another great week for bakery visits.

Did I mention to you before how accomodating everyone is down here? I mean not just polite, but genuinely interested and glad to see you. It certainly makes my quests much easier and I always leave a place feeling like a genuine heartfelt connection has been made.

OK, this is sounding like a 'date movie'!


I visited Jordan's Bakery and was met by Liam and his brother and 2 apprentices. The Jordan boys had grown up in their parents bakery in Mullumbimby, and have now been operating a small artisan baking facility for distribution to the local market. (No retail).

Again everthing done by hand, (except buns) using pre-ferments.

Very interesting ovens, double individual rotating decks, each holding a baking tray. I believe that I have seen similar at Cobs in Canada, which makes sense as Cobs parent company is Bakers Delight from down here.

Liam, thanks for the batarde, fresh from the oven...I am afraid that it didn't make it home in one piece!

6 hours from mixing. Jordan's signiture batarde, resting in the couche waiting for oven space.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SOL Breads Brisbane

Jan 16th:

How refreshing it is to visit a business which hasn't compromised it's humble beginnings by cutting corners and quality, as they have grown. Production is in the thousands of loaves per day
Sol Breads, still makes its products by hand, using no added yeast and organic ingredients.
The company is a medium sized facility, and twins with Wild Bread, (which I have not seen to date).
A lot of the products made use wheat alternatives as this trend is huge in Australia right now. Gluten-Free seems to be the new 'low-carb' fad down here. In fact Sol's own outlet and cafe is 100% gluten-free.
I was welcomed by the crew there, and like most places in Australia, every one is most accomodating and freindly and interested in sharing experiences, whether on a large scale like Sol or on a small scale like Absynthe and Just Bread.
Next week I am going back to work a shift or two in their bakery. I will report again.
I have tried their Carrot Cake..(g/f) amazingly moist, and the croissant which is naturally leavened, wonderfully moist, flaky buttery and tangy!

Sol Breads Brisbane

On the bench. Hand moulding after intermediate proof.

Baking the sour dough

Deck Oven with slide out baking surface

Loading the 'loader'

All hand work here.

Brisbane QLD and Cricket

Thursday Jan 15th:
Brisbane is a beautiful city. Modern and bright but with a sense of old colonial. Laid back but exciting on many levels, and of course ther is the GABBA cricket ground, which is as legendary as "the Forum" in Canada and "MSG" in New York. Of course the "SCG" and "MCG" would probably argue that!
I was trying to get tickets to go and see a live match, but ended up working all night in a bakery...well, we all have priorities.
Although 5 day international test matches are still played, the buzz now is the limited overs games. 50/50 which lasts about 8 hours and 20/20 which lasts about the same as a soccer/rugby/baseball game. The short games are fast and exciting and have thrown the traditional rules out the window. My old head master, Stanley Stubbs would turn in his grave! (In my all-boys school it was the custom to have one lad in the back of the class, with an ear-piece and a transistor radio, report on the progress of the test matches from the BBC)
Remind me when we have 6 or 7 hours to spare to explain the rules of the game.

Anyway, the real reason for me being in Bris. was to visit SOL to follow...

PS and they don't where whites any more....all day-glo coloured uniforms

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Just Loaf, Beenleigh, QDL

Just had a wonderful night in a littke bakery in Beenleigh, about 50k south of Brisbane. Will and Katlyn run the place together, (with their 4 year old son)~

Will takes his breads very seriously and most doughs have 2 starters in them, and a small amount of yeast. This baguette, made out of the country white dough, had a perfect taste profile, and did not dry out as much as the traditional french Baguettes, that we all strive to make. Will, it was still good a day and a half later, and the fruit bread, with cranberries, raisins, currants and almonds was generous and scrumptious!

Country Baguette
Proud Will at the end of the shift
Small table-top reversible sheeter. I have seen a few of these, they must be 50 years old, and are as ubiquitous as our Acme Sheeter Moulders back in Canda and The States.

Link To VIdeo of Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island Baking Program etc

Here are links to the baking and culinary programs at the college:
There is a small promo video about us, in the top right hand corner
More about the program
Info about other culinary programs offered at VIU

Absynthe 2

Jan 13th:
Another night in Surfers, actually Paradise Point, about 10 k north of Surfers where Absynthe's second bake-shop is. Here they make the pastries for the restaurant and the other outlet. Lots of fresh fruit and a wonderful marscapone cream base for the tarts. Dairy products are very cheap here in Australia, and there is an abundance of wonderful cheeses, yoghurts and creams, and of course, amazing butter. You can also buy a thickened cream which contains gelatin straight from the dairy. A great stabilizer in this hot weather, unless you are a vegetarian!
Many, many thanks to Mejitte for letting me come and help him, and sharing his knowledge about the business in Australia. I'll be back!

Monday, January 12, 2009


You know all those Gingerbread Houses that we make every year?

Ever wondered what a ginger plant looks like?

The Link to Absynthe

Here is the link to the Absynthe Bakery and Restaurant in Surfers Paradise.

Get Out Those Deep Fryers Guys

I was surprised to find these prices at a doughnut franchise in the mall for traditional glazed buns.

$3.00 -$4.00 each 6/ $15 12/ $25.

This bakery is in Byron Bay, Called Byron Organic Doughnuts. I was impressed by the $4.00 price point for an over the counter, hand made product. I had thought that it was a reflection on the cost of the organic materials and the hand crafting,but as you can see form the post above it is just the price of a doughnut in Australia!

(I will write more about pricing later, but Pie and Ice cream in a restaurant...$12.50. It is rare to find a dessert under $10.00 in any restaurant. They run at the same price as our entrees. )

PS Entrees are appetizers in Australia.

Absynthe Bakery at Surfers Paradise

Here we are in Surfers Paradise at the Absynthe Bakery. Mejitte Boughenough, my host and I worked last night in the bread shop. They have 2 bakeries and a restaurant. Tonight we are working in the Pastry Shop. Nice bakery and first class product.
S0me of the baked loaves of our night's work. Apart from a little olive oil in the fnacy loaves all of the bread is fat and sugar free.
Slashing the multigrain boules.

Dusting Baguettes at Absynthe

Can the old man pull a midnight shift, still? Sure!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Macadamia Madness

Here is a picture of Grandma Macadamia at the market in Lismore. We also purchased some pure macadamia nut oil from her, which is cheaper than olive oil. I made focaccia with it and fresh herbs from the garden.

Here is a picture of a macadamia plantation. When mature, the tall trees are lush and create a dark forest. Apparently people get lost in the plantation at night and have to wait till morning to get out.

I remember buying a bag of macadamia nuts one year, and being so worried about the cost, I locked them in the office and forgot about them, for a year. They went rancid.!

It's Macadamia time here in Aus and the taste of a fresh cracked nut is amazing. And the price is less prohibitive too!

Coffee Plantation

Coffee is being grown in Australia now, somewhere between 200-600 tons annually. Here is a link to some information about the crop down here and a picture of a local plantation.

Sunset at Goonengerry NSW.

This is the view from Nuwarra Eliya, where we are staying. Our hosts Peter and Cheryl have a wonderful property about 10 miles from Byron Bay, NSW

Settling In

First Week, excellent flight down, missed new years eve...twice!
Water definitely swirls the other way down here...
Settling in in the 'hinterland' behind Byron Bay in a small town called Goonengerry.
starting to organize the bakery tours, and will be travelling up to Brisbane and the Gold Coast on Monday.
link to our base:
Mid 20's and a bit cloudy today. Hope the snow has finally stopped back home (smirk? not me!)

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. .