The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Freo Food Bread bake day

yozzause's picture

Freo Food Bread bake day

I belong to a local Facebook group called Freo Food Bread.  Freo is the abbreviated version for Fremantle the port city for PERTH  the capital of Western Australia . Australians love to shorten everything up.

I have ended up as the admin for this group and we have over 300 members  with probably half that number regularly accessing the site. One of the things that often gets asked is whether bread making lessons can be organised   and to that end I recently visited a number of locations from commercial kitchens through to local halls. Even the commercial kitchens fell short with small mixer and smallish ovens with lack of trays or shelves. As some of you may know I used to work at a hospitality training centre where there was all the goodies . Anyway I was reporting back my progress or lack thereof when one of the members gave me his number and asked me to call as he thought he might have a solution.

I followed up and had a meeting with Lachie,  I had heard of the NORTH STREET STORE and how popular it was, I had also heard of  their expansion to South Fremantle with LITTLE LOAF moving into a premises vacated by another very good local Bakery WILD BAKERY  which had only moved a block or so away to bigger premises. I had also seen the signage go up on a building on the edge of an Industrial area close by home  proclaiming BIG LOAF. This is where it was arranged i meet Lachie.

My cousin Ray who I did my apprenticeship with  accompanied me and we had a tour of the facility and had a great time chatting with Lachie about all things bread. ANYWAY Lachie wanted to make the facility available to the group for a baking session and Sundays is a much quieter day at BIG LOAF so there would be plenty of mixer space bench space and oven space.

My immediate concern was having oversubscription to the event and Lachies answer to that was just schedule more days!  I acknowledged that as being very generous but perhaps we would suck it and see how things worked out with the first one.

As you can imagine I came away from that meeting like I had won the lottery I was already imagining the awe that our baking enthusiasts would feel in such a great environment.

 The proposal was reported on and  very quickly the very active members were putting their names forward so a date was set  that coincided with Lachie returning from a trip to the other side of Australia to purchase and ride a BMW motorbike back across the Nullabor Plain, one section has the longest straight section of road in Australia being 90 miles dead straight its also dead flat and tree less.

I settled on a bakers dozen  with a couple of reserves on a wait list. I elected to make my 50% Wholemeal with Stout  Dough, I wanted to make sure we all had 3 kgs of dough to process  so the dough was to be 48kgs . Fortunately I had already set down a Home Brew of New Zealand Miners Stout and even at 50% of the liquid content we were going to require a dozen  750ml bottles or 9 litres of the black stuff.  I just knew this was going to blow the groups mind. The second dough would be a fruit dough that they would be able to make scrolls with, that was a 32kg dough.

On The day everyone arrived in good time as requested and this was the first time that many had put faces to names , everyone had their printed sticker put on , I was able to spread the workload with a number of members doing tasks such as the name label printing, the money collection and preparing fillings for bread rolls at lunch time which was a big help and one less thing for me to do.

Introductions were made and a few house rules were also mentioned as this was a work site  and a 24/7 site, Sunday is a relatively quiet day so we had plenty of room but still able to witness commercial production. A tour was given from where stores came in through to the despatch.

Lachie had weighed up the first doughs ingredients from the printed out sheet that I had prepared which had the formula as well as the 2 recipes for both 48kg and the home version 750g that could be replicated at Home

I think the scale of things was becoming apparent with the emptying of the 12 bottles of Stout,  Lachie's son Monty was assisting in that task as well as taking the temperature of the stout so that we could achieve our desired dough temperature and of course we needing to factor in  mixer friction.

The dough did not look at all large in the spiral mixer  as it went about its task. Frequent stops were made to allow the members to feel the changes taking place and quite a bit of extra liquid was added , even taking into account that we didn’t want to have a slack dough for inexperienced hands . The dough was well mixed, I was surprised with the amount of development that Lachie was putting into the mix! We can all learn something as we go along. The dough was placed into a couple of tubs and wheeled into the prover on a dolly.

A coffee break was taken at the same time observing  the famous scrolls that are  in such great demand and produced  all by hand in big numbers, something like 2,000 a day.

 Following the coffee break the 2nd dough was commenced being a mere  23kg. enough to give 2kg each and the ability to produce a dozen cinnamon 100g  fruit scrolls and a couple of jubilee twists  or a single 800g loaf. This dough was then also  placed into tubs and consigned to the proofing area.

Lunch was then  taken with Big Loaf show casing their really good pies ,sausage rolls , quiches  and a number of loaves and baguttes  for the pre prepared fillings that  Charlotte and Phil had  brought to the table. Much chatter and laughter  was happening during this great spread of food , but i reminded them that we work with the dough and an inspection had told me the W/M dough was now ready for their attention. The dough was knocked back and emptied out onto the bench, I got to revive my scaling off skills and in no time was hurling 3kg lumps of dough  down the bench to be handed up. a sheet was draped over  the dough pieces while the recovered and relaxed. Suggested final loaf shapes were discussed  so each of the participants would need to further divide  their allotted dough balls into 4 x 750g pieces . I demonstrated shaping for the plastic Bannetons  also for using the genuine french couches that the bakery possessed, (another first for me)  Once shaping was under way help was provided by Ray, Lachie and myself if requested. The shaped dough pieces were then consigned to the proover.  A little later the fruit dough was  then processed diving off 1200g pieces followed by 800g pieces   these were handed up with the scroll pieces preshaped into oblongs  ready to be pinned out. After allowing the dough to relax and recover  the pinning out and application of cinnamon and sugar was  demonstrated  as well as the rolling out and twirling of the jubilee twists. 

No sooner than we had consigned the fruit dough rack to the prover and a bit of a clean up than it was time to get the W/M into the oven. Big loaf  has  a rack oven where the whole rack goes into a baking chamber  and is rotated . A 4 tier hearth oven  which was the one we were using for the W/M  and another larger oven that has the belt  loading apparatus, again another first for me seeing one of these in the flesh, Lachie did demonstrate its use  earlier a great piece of kit, I recalled  the days of loading the big peel ovens with a very long pole and the need for speed as the loaves that go in first are the last to come out , i also remember many an unfortunate bread carter that tried to run past as the peel was slide into the oven and the swift pull back that was required to deposit the dough piece on the floor of the oven resulted in the peel handle skewering them in the leg or groin if the were really unlucky .

Each of the 4 tiers in the oven had controls for top and bottom heat and also steam application  that could be dialed up and would commence and cease automatically.  The loaves were tipped from the Bannetons  scored and slid into the oven, it was evident the some may have gone into the Bannetons upside down  and  were left unscored to show the natural relief  look .

 Big Loaf favours a bold bake on most of its breads as do i  and that's what our loaves got. I must say the aroma from the 48kg W/M baking was well and beyond just the  increased in size factor of the home bake. Just before it was time to unload the oven the fruit dough was rolled into the rotating rack oven another first for me to see.      

Pulling the bread from the oven was that feeling of a magic trick that has been performed right in front of you and  a number of the members got in on that act.

The Fruit dough was next out and the honey wash was applied   A final tidy up and moving a bench or two concluded our great day all that was required was to load  bread and buns into vehicles  express our deepest gratitude to our host Lachie and Monty.

We have been invited back again and Lachie has even offered to have a dough or two already prepared especially if we want to handle a longer or retarded dough next time








 not sure if the videos will work      

 And some of the other pics  of the famous scrolls being made. Anyway a great day was had by all, a good way to spend 8 hours on a Sunday with new friends. 

Other things we intend doing is building a WFO or two  visiting a historical bakery  but probably doing a bread tasting day in conjunction with the history people . 

maybe a flour mill visit

certainly  a bread and spreads afternoon in the spring where we all bring along a bread or two and the things that make good companions to those breads.

Most of all a huge thankyou to Big Loaf Bakery  and Lachie and Monty for their time, and space . i was very pleased to receive  a lovely message from Lachie who said how much fun he had with us and a lovely moment when Monty said to his dad How nice his new mates were!


Yippee's picture

Thanks for sharing, Derek!


gavinc's picture

Derek, Great work and organisation. What a great day. Fabulous! I would even consider crossing the Nullabor Plain :)



yozzause's picture

 We will save you a spot Gavin

isand66's picture

Thanks for sharing this amazing experience you put together for your group.  I wish I had an opportunity like that by me.  We had a TFL bread tasting get together several years ago put together by Varda that was a lot of fun but nothing like this.  All the breads and pastries look amazing as well.

Best regards.


yozzause's picture

Yes Ian it was a great day i can quote one of the ladies that said                                         Thank you Derek Hughes for organising today and helping me with these loaves… Lachie Bisset for oh so generously sharing your time and space, feeding us, showing us all the cool toys… plus not forgetting all the magic in progress that happens at Big Loaf. Ahh… It was truly one of the best days of my life today!


High prise indeed or Elizabeth just needs to get out more

yozzause's picture

Of course the  event couldnt have been possible but for the generosity of Lachie who is very keen to have local community involvement..

pmccool's picture

Such a marvelous day to spend a day!  Thank you for organizing it, Yozza, and for sharing it with all of us who couldn't be there in person.


yozzause's picture

My pleasure Paul it was tremendous fun and to see the look on their faces was priceless!

Benito's picture

I’m sure everyone here would agree that what you organized looked incredible and that we wish we could join one of your groups.  The bread looks wonderful and you can tell by the participants faces that they were having a great time.  Well done Derek for sharing your knowledge of bread baking with so many.


yozzause's picture

 Benny it would be great to be able to offer that experience to some of my TFL mates, the tyranny of distance and now the  lack of travel opportunities  restrict us but it is great to have some fun  and our local baking community certainly did that. Encouraged also that Lachie's response to WFO  build is lets do it! watch this space!