The Village Bakery: A Sweet Deal for Newcastle’s Sourdough Lovers
The translation of the French word “artisanat” to “craft” in English barely does it justice. In French, it refers to the practice of a handmade craft, usually anchored in tradition, like ceramics or woodworking but the word also begins with “Art” giving artisans and artists a common root and a shared passion for what they produce. While bread-making may not technically qualify as art, Warwick Quinton certainly deserves the title of “artisan” and if his beautifully golden sourdough bread wasn’t so tasty, you might even be tempted to frame it and hang it on your wall.
Warwick’s passion for sourdough started with a girl who was yeast intolerant. Armed with John Downe’s “The Natural Tucker Bread Book”, he soon started baking his own naturally fermented sourdough. The girl came and went but the sourdough stayed and evolved into a series of businesses, from Sydney to the Blue Mountains and until recently, in Newcastle, as the popular Sourdough Baker Cafe on Hunter Street, renown for its honest breakfasts, good coffee and of course, the warm and crusty loaves always fresh out of the custom-made oven, affectionately known as “Bertha”.
The cafe was conceived as a “community enterprise”, a business owned, controlled and used by the members of the community. The bakery and cafe, along with Warwick’s blog, his website and a series of regular workshops have built a strong fan base among Novocastrians, on both sides of the counter, as customers and apprentice bakers.
A couple of months ago, the Sourdough Baker Cafe “came up against the perfect storm” as Warwick describes it. “Bertha”, originally built as a prototype started showing signs of fatigue, the shop’s ventilation system broke down and the rent became unmanageable. The absence of financial backing was the undoing of the much-loved cafe which reluctantly closed its doors after just 18 months in business.
“What emerged from that was this incredibly faithful following in Newcastle and we started using that group of people as a sounding board for ideas.” One of those ideas is the “Village Bakery”, Warwick’s latest social enterprise. The concept is simple. People subscribe to a weekly delivery of freshly baked sourdough bread delivered to their homes every Saturday. After only a few weeks, the Village Bakery already has 50 subscribers all over Newcastle.
In addition, Warwick is still running his regular and very popular sourdough workshops from the new kitchen in Newcastle West. In one day, you will “cover all the basics of sourdough breadmaking and ‘sole baking’ techniques for home breadmakers, from beginners to advanced” and take your own bread home.
Whether you like your bread delivered to your door, made with your own hands or have it with coffee and baked beans, you have plenty of options for how to get your sourdough but what you get hasn’t really changed at all, “just sourdough, nothing else and getting as close to perfection as possible using the simplest technology to do it.” Spoken like a true artisan.
To stay up to date with the Sourdough Baker’s news, you can:
‘Like’ their Facebook Page.
Visit the Sourdough Baker Blog.
or become a subscriber to the Village Bakery.