Hope Farm Bakery started from a request for some sourdough bread at a small farmers market in Drouin some 4 years ago. Initially this was baked by Ric in the small wood fired oven in Neerim Sth.
Ric says that flour needs to be handled, smelt, felt and worked with to understand the amazing changes that happen in fermentation. The most important quality with good bread is its ability to be digested and lack of any additives.
With this interest in discovering more of this ancient craft Ric travelled to SanFrancisco, Austria and Italy and started to realise that the simpler the ingredients used the more complex flavours in fermentation could be achieved. Using only organic flour,sea salt and filtered water good quality breads that were also good for you could be made.
As the farmers markets became more popular the taste for sourdough breads became more popular. To maintain a hands on approach Ric took on a friend, Chris as an apprentice and a few family friends to help in the packaging etc. They only bake twice a week as the bread has as longer shelf life. The bread is actually easier to digest the next day and traditionally in parts of Europe was not eaten fresh. The quantities that they make is what they can comfortably hand mould in days work.
A usual production routine would be to feed the leavens (rye, spelt and wheat) the night before a bake. The Hope farm leavens are all made from only flour and water and once fed with flour sit overnight for 12- 18 hours. A the height of their activity they make them into various doughs and let them bulk ferment for 2-5 hours.
The doughs then mould,prove (2-5hrs) and bake in a stone oven. Once the breads are cooled they are bagged and off they go to farmers markets all over the countryside. The family also do a second bake on a Tuesday night for deliveries Wednesady morning.
If you ever get to spend time with the Hope Farm bakers, you will feel a warmth that comes from people who enjoy what they are doing (or you are standing too close to the oven). It is such a pleasure to be around bakers who love their art both from a skills perspective and also because they love the people they are baking for. Really you can't ask for any more than that.