There is a heady smell of freshly baked bread in the air as I close the little gate to the garden. The nights dew still sticks to the grass, making a soft squeaking noise underfoot. Following the sourdough signs, the incredible smell in the air confirms that I’m in the right spot.
I’ve come in search of The Sourdough Baker in Newcastle. Currently baking at the Croation Sports Club in Wickham. Nestled in next to a community garden- sourdough and a community garden? It’s already making me smile and I haven’t even tasted the bread yet.
The Sourdough Baker is Warwick Quinton, who has been baking in all sorts of formats for the last few decades. I first heard of him through the wonders of Instagram, but several friends and family members had been telling me of delicious sourdough tales well beforehand. With his gorgeous partner Ginnie by his side and a handful of trusty helpers, the bread is woodfired and baked in “Bertha” the hefty black oven.
Watching the beautiful loaves come out of the oven, lined up the table, and sit in the early morning sunlight. I can’t help but feel a huge amount of bread happiness. It’s these sort of people that I find incredibly inspiring, making a business work out of something that is so obviously dear to their heart.
Any artisan work is a labour of love, and sourdough bread really is a wonderful example of that. That love is certainly here, as I bite down on my thickly sliced bread a little while later. I scrutinise the crumb and take in the taste. So different to my own loaves.
It’s good, really good.
Talking with Warwick on all things sourdough, I find out his methods are also completely different to my own. Reading The Sourdough Baker’s site days later and there were audible pops as my brain explodes just a little.
I knew sourdough was a flexible beast, with many variations on how to do things, but some of his methods I hadn’t even considered. Seventy two hours from beginning dough mixing to end, desem dough sourdough starter and slashing hours before going in to the oven, were just some of them. All bready tweaks that I think I would definitely like to play with down the track.
For a wannabe bread nerd I still have a lot to work on, so visits like this just fuel that wanting to learn. So many variations, methods and ingredients to play with. All things which after about three years of baking sourdough I still find incredibly exciting. As I sat later, chewing on sourdough and musing on all kinds of bready possibilities, ideas began to form. Mental lists of what to play with next and how to go about it were made.
And next time I’m in Newcastle? Well, I know where I’m getting my bread from.
For recipes, sourdough tales, bread making classes and general information, have a peek at the…