Have you seen the giant, lycra-clad man cycling through Adelaide on a bike loaded with bread? His name is Chris Duffy and his sourdough cargo is something special.
Chris runs Small World Bakery with his wife Emily out of a small bakery he built next to their family home near Langhorne Creek.
They started small, making sourdough rye loaves a commercial-sized wood-fired brick oven (built by Chris and a mate). Emily delivered their first load to a cafe in Strathalbyn in 2008. The rest is history. They moved into their purpose built bakery when wholesale demand for their bread outstripped capacity.
It’s worth the hype. Their slow fermented bread is spectacular but their ethos is simple.
“We think about where our food comes from and how it is made,” Emily says. “And we want our customers to do the same when eating our bread. We work to bring a great nutritious staple to people’s table while delivering big on flavour, so that means we are developing a full system of growing top quality, flavoursome grains in a responsible way, milling them and using them fresh in slowly fermented breads.”
Flour, salt, and water. It’s as simple as that. But Chris and Emily use ancient techniques in fermentation, the simplest high quality ingredients, and a whole lot of patience.
“We think about where our food comes from and how it is made.”
Bread this good gets tongues wagging. Word spread and demand grew. They employed three part-time staff and a courier driver transported their bread to businesses in Adelaide, the Hills and the Fleurieu Peninsula. Their former stall at Willunga Farmers Market was popular, too.
These days, city customers can order bread online. Delivery is free and fresh bread is distributed on Wednesdays and Fridays by bike in Adelaide’s CBD, North Adelaide and along Greenhill Road. Orders need to be finalised by midday Monday and Wednesday, respectively. “The breads are sourdough so we need that lead time to build the leaven for the doughs.”
They get a kick out of pedal power. “The bike is so much fun to ride. Even though Adelaide is not a hilly city, when loaded with 40 loaves that front box could get hefty.” When choosing the right bike, they looked to the Danes for ideas. “We found a company in Copenhagen who had developed the articulated axle and electrically assisted technology to make the ride efficient and smooth.” Local cycling business Treadly supported the deal from shipping to building and servicing it.
They’re quite the duo. Before going bonkers for bread, Chris managed pubs and a high end restaurant in Melbourne. He also studied viticulture and oenology at The Waite Institute, was a partner in a vineyard management business at Langhorne Creek, and developed his own vineyard property on the Angas River. Emily worked with her parents and siblings on their farming properties all her life and when they opened a cellar door at Balhannah in 1993, discovered the satisfaction of growing, cooking and serving food. She trained as a chef, and worked as a cheesemaker. “The seeds for a long term career in fermentation were probably sown then.”
Life is busy. The couple also has two young sons and the business has exciting developments on the horizon. A trip to Europe and North America in 2016 led to new approaches to producing quality bread and in pursuit of ultimate flavor, they’re importing a stone mill from Vermont in the States.
“Our friends at Elmore Mountain Bread have a side business building these slowly rotating natural stone mills,” Chris says. “The 40-inch diameter stones keep the grain relatively cool while grinding the entire seed into fine, creamy silky flour.” In a nutshell, it means the flour used in the sourdough breads is “very much alive.”
It’s all good news for bread fans. Small World Bakery is also bulking up stocks of their own grain (heirloom wheats, and ancient grains like Khorasan, emmer, einkorn and Sicilian farro) to eventually mill into fresh wholeflour.
Get on the bandwagon. Your humble breakfast staple just got serious.
Small World Bakery has a bread stall at Ferment, The Festival at Rundle Park from 19 to 22 October, 2017. They will also be involved in a QnA session and hold a sourdough demo in the Food Lab.
Photos: Ben Macmahon
What bread do you love? Tell us in the comments, below.