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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Red Beard Bakery - great sandwich starts with great bread

I came across Red Beard Bakery from the bread making class program of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

The bakery has been opened for about five years but I have never heard about them before. They are located in a quaint small town called Trentham in Central Victoria. It is about 70-minute pleasant drive from Melbourne, which makes a perfect day trip. Being relatively new to Australia, I have never heard about Trentham before. When it comes to Central Victoria, a short getaway from Melbourne, Daylesford and Macedon Ranges seem to dominate.

A lovely drive to Trentham

The story of the bakery is quite fascinating. It was set up by two brothers at the site that used to be a commercial bakery over 140 years ago. They refurbished 19th century Scotch oven (woodfried oven) and put it back into operation again. All their breads and baked goods are baked in this woodfried oven. As a bread enthusiast, I was very keen to visit the Bakery, have a look at the oven and taste the bread.

Historical Trentham train station

Apart from running bread-making classes, they also operating bakery tour combining with meals or snacks at the Bakery. We didn't do the tour as it was only available on weekdays.  Customers can also ask to see their historical Scotch oven and we took the chance. The oven is huge. Its size is about a small bedroom. It can bake 300 sourdough loaves at the same time. The peel for loading breads into the oven is a massive 4-metre long. They usually start oven fire in the evening and the temperature starts with over 400C and drop down to high 200C in the early morning. The oven holds heat for days. Whenever they have to replace tiles in the oven, they have to wait for five days for the temperature to drop to a safe level . The oven is also used to heat-up the bread and sandwich orders throughout the day. When we were there (around 1 pm), the oven temperature was around 200C. I totally admire how they conduct their bakery business, making bread in the old traditional way. Pure organic sourdough bread in the commercial woodfried oven is a rarity in Australia, let alone the 19th century WFO.

The historical Scotch oven at the Bakery, clockwise from top-left,
 the oven interior, the fuel compartment, the oven thermometer, the oven brand

Our currant buns were being warmed up

Tools for the trade, 4-m peel, couche, banetton and loaf pans
The woodfried oven occupied the whole area behind this walls

We had lunch there. I had BLT sandwich and S had vegetable forcacia. We also had a currant bun to share. They were all delight. Good sandwich starts with good bread and their breads are excellent. The focaccia was interestingly made with two pieces of plain focaccia sandwiched together with vegetable filling. They were delicious. One of the best focaccia I had.

Our lunch - vegie focaccia, BLT sandwich and current bun

There are bread flour, bread making tools, bread books and woodfried oven building books available for sale. That was ashame that I had just bought 12.5-kg bag of bread flour from CostCo which would last for at least two months, if not more. Had I not, I would have bought the 10-kg Laucke organic bread flour from there. Never mind, I am sure I will go back to the Bakery soon enough.

Trentham itself is also a lovely and picturesque town. It made a nice drive from Melbourne. I love doing a foodie road trip and buying local produces along the way. We also picked up fresh honey from local beekeepers. The honey tastes amazing and it will be great for the wholewheat sourdough and many others. (S said that the honey tasted like what the honey used to taste when he was a kid.)

A picturesque Trentham fall

Honey direct from the beekeepers themselves
All in all,  Trentham made a fantastic day out. It is quaint, lovely, has a beautiful waterfall, full of historical gold-rush era sites. And most of all, it has a fantastic artisan bakery, Red Beard Bakery which I would go back there for sourdough breads anytime.

The town's local pub that is being refurbished and back in the business again as a cafe

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