I’ve personally experimented with a gluten-free diet, and agree that cutting down on carbs is probably a good idea. But, ever since watching Michael Pollan’s Cooked, I’ve been obsessed with bread, particularly sourdough. I’ve tried baking my own (with a degree of success) and I’ve been on a mission to find the best sourdough in Cape Town. Loaf after loaf of so-called sourdough knock-off disappointed me. Then I discovered Woodstock Bakery, and I finally saw the sourdough light.
I know that gluten plays a vital role in bread to provide structure and nutrition. I wanted to know more about what makes bread the puffy cloud of deliciousness that it is. I contacted the owners of Woodstock Bakery, Paul Hartmann and Paul Cremer. These guys know a lot about bread and bake all sorts of varieties. Except gluten-free. They never do gluten free!
How did you get into baking?
Most bakers using wood-fired ovens in SA were trained by Markus Farbinger of Ile de Pain in Knysna. We attended a workshop at Gastronomica hosted by Markus. Paul Cremer worked for Markus for two and a half years.
Why has bread been getting a bad rap in recent years?
Gluten intolerance and LCHF diets have a lot to do with the bad rap. This is because commercially available bread is so adulterated by processing and additives that it is food negative and people associate that with gluten intolerance when in fact they’re intolerant to the rubbish that is sold as bread. Also, LCHF diets groups all carbs in one bag instead of stipulating high processed carbs specifically. Bread made in the proper way using best practices and ingredients is highly beneficial in the diet.
How does bread baked according to traditional methods differ from store bought bread?
Nutritionally, it is as close as possible to natural without high processing and unnecessary additives, preservatives and conditioners so it has a very high nutritional content.
Our gut is not adept at processing super-refined, high processed products such as commercially available bread and as a result, our health is affected.
High-speed milling and rapid processing rob the flour of all its flavour and the dough is not allowed to ferment properly in order to develop any real flavour. Also, insufficient baking for prolonged shelf-life does not allow for the crust to caramelise and thus offer a contrasting bitterness to the creamy crumb.
How is sourdough bread different to other bread?
Sourdough is made using a culture derived from fermenting flour and water over a period of eight to 13 days. Essentially, this is a homemade yeast that relies on the existing microbes in the atmosphere to populate the flour/water host. The result is bread that takes much longer to make because the culture is not as powerful as commercial yeast. This slow process is what allows the dough to develop the typical sour flavour of the resultant bread.
How long does Woodstock Bakery take to create a loaf of bread?
Sourdough takes 48 hours to make from culture to mother to dough to bread. Most other traditional breads take anything from four to 18 hours to make. Commercial bread, like ‘government loaf’ can be manufactured within 90 minutes, and that includes cooling!
Where do you source your ingredients?
We source ingredients in Cape Town and Heidelberg. Butter from Ladismith, olives from Stellenbosch, salt from the west coast, and honey from Malmesbury.
What makes Woodstock Bakery stand out?
We follow the traditional methods of bread making and use the best available, local ingredients, which are handled as little as possible from scaling to firing. Our breads are slow fermented to provide optimum taste and nutrition and all breads are baked in wood-fired ovens. The only machinery employed are dough mixers and laminators for croissants. Everything is hand-shaped and no electrical proofers are used for the breads.
Woodstock Bakery breads are available at the bakery in Woodstock where you are welcome to drop by and buy what is available on the shelves each morning during the week. Breads are also available at Neighbourgoods Market, Salt River, OZCF Market at V&A Waterfront, Granger Bay and Raith Gourmet (Gardens and Constantia).