The Fresh Loaf

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Tasmania - a winters journey

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PiPs's picture
PiPs

Tasmania - a winters journey

I hope to be baking full-time again reasonably soon ... within weeks hopefully, and I can't wait to post a photo of the first loaf coming out of the oven.

... but this has meant some patience and waiting on my part.

So while we were waiting, Nat and I decided to head south to Tasmania for a chilly winters holiday. I am not sure how many of you have heard of Tasmania or know it's history ... but I live in Australia and seemed to know very little of this island tucked beneath the mainland of Australia. With a push from Ian at Ars pistorica we planned a weeks holiday full of road trips, relaxation and good food.

 

 

We left Brisbane on a warm 24°C afternoon and landed in Launceston on a wet and cold 10°C evening ... and then the weather proceeded to get even wetter and colder. Tasmania's climate compared to northern states of Australia is very changeable. A clear cold winter morning can quickly change to horizontal rain by mid-morning followed by clear skies and a wicked wind at lunch before dropping to even cooler temperatures by early afternoon and evening. We dressed in layers!

We spent a few days with Ian in Launceston where he proudly showed us through the construction of his new bakery. Launceston is about to be treated to some great bread. It is very apparent that Ian loves this state and that it breaks his heart to see it struggle compared to the mainland. From Launceston we travelled south through the centre of Tasmania. Large forests opened out into clear rolling hills that reminded me of the darling downs where I grew up except that these were super-sized and saturated versions!

 

 

Probably the place I was most excited about visiting in Tasmania was a town called Oatlands. For many years I have watched the restoration of the towns windmill, Callington Mill which had been built in 1837. Three years ago the mill was finally complete and once again had begun to produce stone-milled flour from locally grown grains. I also knew of Oatlands as being the home of Companion Bakery which was started by Graham Prichard a few years before the completion of the mill. Graham may be well known to many of you as the founder of sourdough.com.

Graham's bakery has a 6ft x 8ft Alan Scott oven built by Dennis Benson of Chester St fame that fits perfectly within the sandstone buildings that line the streets of Oatlands. Graham very generously invited Nat and I into his bakery and even let me shape a few of his loaves before we rushed over the road to do a tour of the mill. Due to health and safety regulations I was unable to take my camera on the tour as flour is combustable and electrical equipment is a fire hazard. A mill wright from the UK had been flown out to take measurements and over see the restoration of the timber work—the sounds of creaking timber throughout the mill is reminiscent of an old sailing ship—the craftwork is breath taking.

 

 

From Oatlands we travelled further South past the capital city of Hobart and caught a ferry across to Bruny Island. Apparently summer is the time that most tourists visit Tasmania and this was most evident on Bruny Island. The environment and quietness were spectacular. At the Bruny Island lighthouse on the very most southern tip we looked out over the southern ocean in horizontal rain and felt a solemn appreciation for the people who manned these stations so many years ago. It must have been rugged for them.

 



After almost drifting into a relaxing state of nothingness we departed the island and travelled back to Hobart to visit the world class Museum of Old and New Art: MONA. This was almost a mind melting experience. Sheer amazement is the only way to describe the feeling as you descend into the gallery. After three hours of exploring I was exhausted and at the point of being overwhelmed. An amazing experience! As we left MONA I noticed they had a fantastic looking pizza oven finished with a rusted metal enclosure. Stunning!

Actually, we found many wood ovens across Tassie and there were more that I didn't have time to visit and even many, many more that I am sure I have not even heard of ... even now I am discovering stories of ovens that have been lovingly restored. One such oven is in a small village called Ross. The semi scotch oven is the centre of the Ross Village Bakery which may have a connection to many of you that you didn't realise. It is rumoured to be the inspiration for the bakery used in the movie Kiki's Delivery Service. If you have not seen this movie, please do ... it is a beautiful movie for young and old.

 

 

After many more road trips full of discovery (and even snow) we finally had to head for home, and as we walked across the tarmac again in horizontal rain, it was hard to believe that in a few hours we would be landing back home in a city that is twice as warm and has almost four times the population of this little state of Australia.

Lucky for me I had a little (actually it was large and heavy) package awaiting my arrival to beat the post holiday blues. I have decided to join the ranks of Proth5 and her band of manual millers. I pondered the purchase of a manual grain mill for quite a while and after much research decided upon the Grainmaker 116. I hope to achieve the control over my flour milling that I am currently unable to develop with the Komo mill. I will be sacrificing speed for quality.

With the Grainmaker I can control the speed of the crank, the fineness and even the flow rate of grain. The first batches of flour have been very impressive with lovely room temperature flour and excellent bran separation. In the coming weeks I hope to find some time to do some whole-grain baking with it and see just how well this flour performs. On a brief side note I knocked up a version of Andy's seeded sourdough ... I will do a post on this bread in the near future ... I highly recommend it!

 

 

While at Callington Mill I couldn't help myself but purchase some of the light sifted stoneground flour they produce. I didn't get the chance to talk to the miller about their process but it seems that they are milling the grain in one pass before it is sifted through three grades of mesh to produce this flour. I decided to try this flour in a fairly safe formula that I use quite often. 

I mixed a dough at roughly 75% hydration with 25% of the flour pre-fermented in a stiff starter. The dough had a little more strength than I anticipated and after a few minutes of slap-and-folds I left it for two hours in bulk with one fold half way through. The shaped batards were retarded overnight before being baked off in a hot oven. The stoneground flour produced a loaf with a little less volume than with roller milled flour ... but the flavour and crumb texture is to die for. YUM!

 

 

... my bag of Callington Mill flour will run out shortly and I think another trip to Tassie is a bit out of the question so I may be back to milling and sifting on a small scale ... and possibly getting very tired arms in the process :)

Cheers,
Phil

p.s Nat took some of the more spectacular scenery photos :)

Comments

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Phil and Nat

Thanks for sharing your holiday adventure with us , Tasmania is one of the first things on my to do list i have the camper already to go and retirement around the corner.

I just loved the  oven shots they all look so alive some are just napping others in a deeper sleep but they all seem like they want to be coaxed into being active. Phil you have that knack to make pictures that speak to us. Your whole adventure to Tassie  will be a great chapter for TFL folk to read over this weekend 

i must say i am so pleased to see that you have rebounded so well from the savagery of the Newman  slash and burn and the anxiety and  worry that befell you  and the journey that we have been privileged enough to share.

thanks for another  great post and we look forward to the promise of good things to come. kindest regards  Derek

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Derek,

I was just speaking to Dennis about this the other morning over a cup of tea. I am amazed at how much has changed in my life over the last year. In some sick way I am almost grateful for the kick in the pants that the redundancy gave me. Financially maybe not ... but in so many other areas I have grown and made so many great contacts.

Tasmania is a fascinating place ... the history, environment and food ... I could have easily spent the rest of the year there exploring! Go! ... you will love it!

All the best,
Phil

 

annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

Tassie is always great for holiday. We are planning our gourmet trip this coming summer by catching a ferry to cross the Tasman sea to Tassie.  Thanks for posting those lovely photos of beautiful places on your trip.  I'll show them to my hubby how lovely our trip is going to be. I also really hope these beautiful WFOs will help to persuade him to build one WFO in our backyard.

Beautiful post and your loaves are always inspirational.

Best wishes for the new plan.

Annie

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Annie,

I think next time (way off in the future) we would drive down the coast and catch the ferry across. We didn't even get to the spectacular parts of tassie ... and in winter the weather seems to keep people away and indoors.

We really want to do Cradle Mountain ... next time :)

Cheers,
Phil

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

great post with the weather, scenery, ovens, wildlife. mills and bread all fantastic.  I can see a book on the way!

Happy baking and thanks for the photo journal.

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks dabrownman,

I'll put a book down on the list ... no promises though :)

Cheers,
Phil

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Beautiful post, as always, Phil.  

That is funny about the Kiki's Delivery Service connection.  My kids love that movie... pretty much anything by Studio Ghibli.

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Floyd,

I had forgotten the connection to Kiki's Delivery Service until we arrived at the Ross Village Bakery. We were trying to get in the front door as it was freezing outside but the door was blocked by a large group of Japanese tourists taking photos. Once we were finally inside there are signs in Japanese around the walls that explained the connection I imagine. Apparently they have quite a bit of tourist traffic for this reason.

We have a few Studio Ghibli fans here also :)

Cheers,
Phil

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Great pictures.  I now want to take a vacation to Australia even. One day maybe that'll happen. Hopefully that will include a taste of your bread, at your bakery. 

Always fun t read 

josh

ps. That loaf looks stellar. 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Josh,

You just never know :) Australia would be a great place to visit I reckon!

Thanks for the comment on the bread ... I always enjoy playing with new flour varieties.

Cheers,
Phil

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Thanks for the beautiful artisan baker's tour of Tasmania - my appetite was whetted by the shots of your beautiful loaves. Good luck with manual milling - probably one of the best (only?) ways to obtain the perfect flour.

I hear Tasmanian's are quite well known for their jams, jelly and preserves. Any comment?..,

Wild-Yeast

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Wild-Yeast,

I am looking forward to dedicating some time to the mill. It is a beautifully crafted machine. I will do a post on it soon and try and give some indication on the size of it ... it isn't small!

Tasmania is well known for it fruit production and jams and especially dairy ... We saw orchards everywhere ... much larger than I have seen on the mainland ... but we didn't bring back any jams ... already had a large bag of flour stuffed in my suitcase :)

An amazing climate for farming!

Cheers,
Phil

isand66's picture
isand66

Thanks Phil for sharing your adventures. Stunning photography and perfect bread to boot.  Look forward to hearing about your next adventure.

Cheers

Ian

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Ian,

Hope to be sharing more news in a few weeks time :)

Cheers,
Phil

LindyD's picture
LindyD

A most eloquent travelogue, Phil. The photos and breads are stunning.

Am especially intrigued by that rusty, but well used, oven proudly wearing its “M” crown.

Good to hear that Ian is doing well and that things are turning around for you.

BTW, love the color of your new mill!

Lindy

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Lindy,

The rusted oven was outside the MONA Gallery ... I wanted to peer inside and see how it was constructed but there was nobody around and I didn't want to tamper with other peoples property. It had thermocouples throughout it and was sitting at a cool 180C. I loved the compact well thought out design. Lots of storage.

The new mill is head turner :)

Cheers,
Phil

proth5's picture
proth5

I am in a weary state for reasons that may or may not appear on these pages, but was skimming your post and saw my alias.

OK, now I need to schedule a trip to Australia so I can play with that Grainmaker!  Congrats on your purchase and your decision.

Last time I followed my bookmark to Ian's website, it told me it was gone....

Nice pics - good bread!

Pat

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Pat,

Sorry to hear you are weary ... perhaps a trip to Tasmania will relax and recharge you?????

Anytime you are flying in these neck of the woods you are more than welcome to drop in ... 

I am so pleased with the mill ... Like you, I agonise over these kinds of purchases and it has been long, long process. Nice to finally have it sitting on a table here ...

Yes, Ians website is down ... I did ask him about it ... he said something better is on the way ... but he has a lot on his plate and is pretty busy at the moment.

Cheers,
Phil

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

of a beautiful place, Phil.  Some of the countryside looks very much like scenery we saw in the Scottish Highlands this summer.  No wallabies there, though.

Any idea of what the wooden, pyramidal structures behind the rusting oven might be?

Lovely breads you've made, too.

Paul

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Paul,

There were wallabies all over Bruny Island ... the white wallaby is quite particular to it. Yeah, the midland of Tasmania has a highlands feel to it ... low sweeping clouds and blustery hills.

The pyramids were outside the MONA gallery ... not sure of the story behind them ... there were quite a few.

Cheers,
Phil

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Phil,
It’s so good you got to go and see Tasmania, and meet and make new friends.

After following the progress of Callington Mill’s restoration, it's wonderful you got a chance to visit and see the craftsmanship in person.
It's just as wonderful to see your craftsmanship with these beautiful breads, and look forward to what you will be baking using flour created with that gorgeous mill!

Beneath the picture of the adorable wallabee, you have a picture of a grey sky – the cloud pattern looks like ocean waves to me.
Looking at the pictures of the coast and waters I imagine how fresh that sea air must have been.

Love the photos of the inland scenery, the ovens, the windmill and other buildings – so much history and beauty there.

Thank you for this post – so good to be able to see another very interesting and scenic part of Australia!
Best wishes,
:^) breadsong

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi breadsong,

I have been following the Callington Mill restoration for so long ... Our guide said it was first decided to restore the mill 40 years ago! I believe Alan Scott had something to do with it. Oatlands is his home town and is where he is buried.

The air is fresher ... but ... the funny thing is ...when we arrived back in Brisbane we found the warmer air carried more scent ... Brisbane smelt floral and alive.

I so wish I could have taken photos inside the mill. They are just ingenious creations ...

Cheers,
Phil

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hey Phil.  Once again an amazing post for all of us to learn from and enjoy.  I love the breads and the scenery...so beautiful.  I think in America, the majority of us instantly think of the Tasmanian Devil, when we hear Tasmania.  Thanks to Loony Toons. 

I second my opinion on the traveling bakery book!

John

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks John,

Ha, I never saw a Tassie devil there ... very shy and nasty critters!

Have you heard of the Tasmanian tigers?

Cheers,
Phil

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Wow, no, but I have now...Just read up on it.  I don't know how this animal got past this animal enthusiast.  What I read so far is it may perhaps still be alive in small numbers?  Or is it now extinct for sure?

John

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Phil,

Spectacular post.  Thanks so much for sharing so much about your holiday.  I feel so naive about your beautiful part of this planet.  I have always thought of Tasmania as a pretty wild and uninhabited island.  Now I know differently.  What beauty!  And what creative people that live there.  Very interesting the gallery you visited.  Talent galore!  I was surprised by the number of WFO you mentioned that dot the landscape.  Gone is my idea of a wild and barren island.

How fun to come home to a new 'toy'.  I am interested to see where this newest acquisition leads you although I was expecting you package to be a new oven of some sorts.  You do know you are not in charge anymore don't you? :)  The Bread God has gotten a hold of you…the adventure continues *- }

Take Care and thanks again for the delightful post and peek into you life.

Janet

P.S.  When Ian starts up a new site will it still be with the 'old' link?  Thanks for the link to sourdough.com too.  That is one I have never run across.  Fun to find another bread site.

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Janet,

There are still some pretty wild parts of Tasmania and much of the island has been designated as national park. I have only really shown the smallest possible snapshot of the variety of life displayed there.

Oh yeah, the 'bread god' has really got me by the scruff of my neck ... just along for the ride.

Not sure what Ian has planned for his site ... I will let everyone know when it is up and running.

Cheers,
Phil

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Another wonderful post, Phil.  Nothing gets me daydreaming like photos of the WFO's you come across in your travels.  Thanks!

Marcus

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Marcus,

They are dreamy aren't they?

Cheers,
Phil

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Phil,

Not much I can say here that hasn't been said already....so I'll say it again, gorgeous post! I was thinking as I was reading through your post and enjoying Nat's excellent photos, what a high quality piece of food journalism it is. So far above much of what's published in the genre these days. Have you ever thought of sending a final draft to a print or online publication that centers on food or travel? I feel that these particular types of posts that you do would appeal to a much broader readership than just us breadheads on TFL and might be worth considering if you haven't already. Just a thought, but in the meantime I'll enjoy reading your excellent posts right here and look forward to seeing your next one.

All the best Phil,

Franko

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Franko,

I have lots of ideas but also realistic expectations on what I can achieve once I am back in dough every day. A book or articles is a bit of a slow burner for me ... My real love at this stage is baking ... and baking everyday. I want to be in that rhythm again. It is almost all I can think about ... much to the dismay of others I am sure :)

Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.

Phil

Wingnut's picture
Wingnut

Another cracker of a post, well done mate. 

Did you get my Private message?

Keep on baking.

Cheers,

Wingnut

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Wingnut,

Just replied to your message ... sorry about that :)

Will happily keep on baking :)

Cheers,
Phil

Mebake's picture
Mebake

 Oh, gorgeous scenery, wood ovens, and nice passionate companions! What a wonderful place to be in, Phil! a joy to read. Have you abandoned your hand mixing ways? is that a bowl from a mixer up there ;)

The manual crank mill looks strurdy and promising indeed. If i were you, I'd use it for grinding my levain flours, and leave the rest of the dough's flour to the Komo. 

Wishing you the best of luck in your futurs plans.

-Khalid

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Khalid,

Nice spotting ... you are kind of right ... I am using a kitchen aid for some of the larger levain builds ... saves me time in the kitchen and I like it to mix a bit warmth into them. I am still mixing all the final doughs by hand though.

The mill is a delight ... and very, very sturdy. I am getting used to the slower pace of milling ... The flour quality more than makes up for this.

Cheers,
Phil 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Phil,

You have so much going on in this post of your trip to Tasmania, and it is wonderful.   I have been so pressed for time, so it has taken me longer to get round to posting a comment than I would have liked.

The insight into those vernacular ovens makes for such a great story.   And like Paul, I note the scenery shown in Nat's and your photographs is actually quite evocative of the Scottish landscape too; not necessarily just the Highlands either.   That sandstone bridge has clear resemblance to one very near to where we live: right on Scottish/English border at Coldstream.

Thank you for gathering together so much "news" about Tasmania [Companion and Callington], and about Ian's activity at Lauceston too.   And it's always good to catch up with where your baking is currently at too.   The hand-cranked mill took me quite by surprise; it is a quite beautiful piece of machinery to look at.

I'm glad you made the Seeded Sourdough, and that you also recommend it; I look forward to reading more about this in a future post.

Take good care

Andy

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Andy,

Ha, yeah, I debated whether I should split this into separate posts ... but I wanted to keep it fresh from my memory.

Most of the old sandstone bridges and buildings were completed by convicts. The bridge shown above was completed by a stonemason convict and his team. I believe he was granted his freedom after its completion. It is stunning in its details—and looks brand new!

The seeded sourdough was great ... Nat took a few loaves into her work, where someone declared the most delicious bread they have ever tasted. I believe that praise should be passed on to you! Thanks for the inspiration!

Cheers,
Phil