The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Jo's picture
Jo

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thought I would blog my progress. I have recently converted my garage into a bakery, i learnt to bake in france, spent 4 months with an artisan baker and then returned to bake here. Artisan bread is virtually unknown in these parts, in some cases when I take my baguettes into places to sell them people say "'what's that"' in most cases they don't even recognise it as a loaf of bread. Will endeavour(if anyone is interested to keep you updated on my progress) I will give you more info on output etc and post some pictures soon. Oh I live in Fish hoek Cape Town South Africa

Comments

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

about your adventure into the commercial world! What is a typical loaf in South Africa?

Jo's picture
Jo

a typical loaf in South Africa is a white soft sliced loaf, packaged in plastic wrapping. We also have brown sliced or seed loaves. Ciabatta was introduced by a small bakery a few years ago and is very popular but it is not artisan bread, they uae improvers to create the holes and it does not have a thick crust.

jacq's picture
jacq

I am dreaming about doing this in the future... Would like to know very much how you were able to learn to bake in France, because this is something I would like to do myself. Do you speak french? Was this baker an acquaintance of you?

Also I am very interested how you are going to sell your bread. I was in South Africa (Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg) myself a few months ago and spent a lot of time looking for decent bread. Was able to find it at a farm stall in Grabouw. I know there are a lot of dutch people in the Cape Town area (I am from The Netherlands) that will be interested in your bread.

Let me know how you are getting on!

Jo's picture
Jo

Hi I'm not sure if you are following my progress on the blog. I am so bad at the computer stuff but basically I am retelling the story of how I got to where I am now in terms of baking. I have also answered your questions

beanfromex's picture
beanfromex

Best of luck in the future!!

Moving to a foreign culture has its rewards and setbacks. But your positive attitude is a key factor.

I should love to hear from you and your bread stories.

Regards from southern Mexico 

Jo's picture
Jo

Hi well I will give you a brief synopsis of how I came to be baking.............about 2 years ago I went with a friend to France. The deal was that she wanted to do some repairs and maintenance on her house and if I helped her i could saty there for free and learn to bake baguettes at night.She speaks French so we just went to the nearby village and asked the baker if he would let me into his bakery to learn the art of French baguettes. He agreed and that night I set off at midnight for my first lesso. well I could not believe it, there was no art involved at all, it was one of those automated bakeries where they rolled baguettes by machine, put them in the fridge and baked them the next day. they just used a normal bread dough and shaped it into baguettes. I was so disheartened and burst into tears when I got home that morning.

As luck would have it we ran into a very swarthy looking estate agent the very next day. He asked us if we had tried the bread from the new bakery on the hill? we raced up there and my friend managed, without too much trouble, to convince Alain to teach me how to bake. I reported to work the very next day and worked alongside this amazing baker for four of the best months of my life. Communication was very limited. We had started off mixing and baking 6 kilos of dough and by the time I left we were doing 100 kilos. He thought I was his lucky charm and in exchange for that he taught me how to bake. will continue the story if you are interested......? 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Please continue ...

Jo's picture
Jo

well, the time had finally come for me to return home, I had achieved all I had set out to do in France. I could now bake a French baguette...I had been an apprentice and in his words I was ready to go out into the world alone.

The next year and a half was a complete nightmare. Very briefly both my parents became ill and died last year within 6 months of each other. bread was the furthest thing from my mind.

I returned from my Fathers funeral in Mocambique in September. i downoaded my messages and there was one from Marcus who runs the only artisan bread bakery in South Africa. He urgently wanted me to contact him re a bread course that week. i called him straight away and within an hour I was on the road to Knysna (600 km)to attend a 2 day course given by Jeffrey Hamelman the great master baker.

will continue..........

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jo,

Please continue thisinteresting story. You are quite a good writer by the way.

Jo's picture
Jo

I am not sure if I mentioned the fact that I have approached loads of outlets with regrds to selling my bread. Anyway this particular place is a very successful bakery and deli that does not sell anything it does not make or bake. I have been supplying the owner and his friends every week. Anyway, yesterday he called and wants to meet to discuss sub contracting... will continue

Jo's picture
Jo

hello again, sorry for not updating sooner. On Saturday I had the busiest baking day so far. I managed to convince the owner of that popular deli and bakery to take my bread and apparently it was sold out in an hour which is fantastic news. I made 60 loaves, started at 4.30 am and was done by 10.30 am which I was thrilled with.

Jo's picture
Jo

So off I went to the workshop in Knysna. It was just a two day artisan baking course run by the very well known Jeffrey Hammelman. He is so very passionate about bread and a fantastic teacher. I would highly recommend his courses if antone out there gets the opportunity. He left us all with a bit of sourdough culture which I use for my sourdough rye and its still going strong. Returning to Cape town I was completely inspired, my friend offered me her garage to use so I set about buying the equipment. I did not want to spend a fortune so avoided all the big equipment companies. In short I managed to put my entire bakery together for around 5000 US$.

My next hurdle was trying to adapt my French recipe......... will continue

Jo's picture
Jo

Well. on the course in Knysna I met up with a guy who was really interesting and a lovely guy. he was in the middle of renovating two houses which he wanted to turn into a coffee shop and bakery and was really keen to do artisan bread. He had studied to be an elephant doctor but really felt that he wanted to bake and make good coffees. I went up to visit him and do some baking about 4 months ago. he had just finished the renovations and was busy teaching a refugee from Zimbabwe. He had worked in a commercial bakery before he was run out by the ruling party and had no idea about artisan baking. He did, however, have a great touch for dough and he loved it. Anyway we had a great few days baking, there were few customers but word was spreading fast. I had a call from him yesterday and he is doing around 200 loaves a day now which is fantastic. He wants help with his croissants so I am flying over for a few days will let you know how things are going. The best news though is that in order for his Zimbabwean baker to get  a work permit he has to be a specialist in something (so that he does not take a job away from a South African). He can now apply on the basis that he is an artisan baker. I will continue

edh's picture
edh

Jo,

Your tale is fascinating, and very well told; keep us posted! I agree with paddyscake, it's so nice to hear good news.

Good Luck!

edh

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

GOOD news..so much that we receive is negative! Please continue to update and also to tell us how your bread venture is doing..

chuppy's picture
chuppy

What an incredible story!! I love bread stories!!

Jo's picture
Jo

Ok, in the mornings I supply this really chilled, laid back guy. he has parked his mobile espresso machine at a local garage(filling station), he has jack Johnson blaring from the speakers and serves, probably the best, coffee in the area. he is fast becoming a legend and people come for miles around. There are two wooden benches loosley nailed together, a rickety table and some shade cloth over the top.

Anyway I supply him with filled baguettes, only cured ham or mature cheddar, croissants and banana muffins.I love it.... while my dough is bulk fermeting I deliver there, stay for a coffee and a chat and then get back.when I first started people complained that the bread was too hard etc etc after much explaining about artisan bread  it has really taken off. yesterday I delivered and while I sat there the whole lot was sold.....got ot go timer gone off