Not all breads are created equal. If you put a slice of supermarket bread next to a hunk of artisanal sourdough rye, you could be comparing two different foodstuffs. The first big divide is in the taste – spongy cotton wool versus chewy, tangy depth of flavour. The second is in how nutritious it is: artisanal bread baking, whether from sourdough cultures or small amounts of yeast, relies on a long, slow fermentation process, with some loaves taking up to 72 hours to bake from start to finish.
During this slow rise, natural enzymes work on the gluten, breaking it down so that all the nutrients can be absorbed. Result: tasty bread that is more easily digestible, even to the gluten sensitive, and which genuinely is a staple food. Luckily, in Cape Town we have several pioneering artisan bakers bringing delicious, top-quality breads to our table.
A hip Bree Street bakery and café, Jason Bakery is known for its sourdough loaves and ciabattas as well as its challah and baguettes, all made with organic stoneground flour and no additives. Their care and personal approach to artisanal baking are evident, especially when one finds out that their sourdough starters have names and personalities: nine-year-old Henry is responsible for their Bree Street sourdough, and six-year-old Jessica, their 66% sourdough rye.
Traditional breads are baked in a wood-fired Spanish stone oven by baker Paul Cremer, who supplies to several top Cape Town restaurants, including The Test Kitchen, and sells his breads at the Neighbourgoods and Oranjezicht City Farm markets. The irresistible range of sourdough ryes and slow-fermented yeast breads, rolls, brioche and croissants have clients rocking up to the Woodstock Bakery before noon to buy random extras from the night’s bake; savvy regulars order ahead via WhatsApp.
A slow-rise success story, Knead’s artisanal bakeries have grown from the original Wembley Square premises to six popular bakery cafés around Cape Town. Using home-made sourdough cultures, natural yeasts, quality flours and traditional slow-fermentation methods, the baking teams create an earthy range of loaves, from 100% rye and buttermilk rye to ciabattas, muesli breads and baguettes. Coffee roasted in-house and simple café meals make each Knead a warm and sustaining local eatery.
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Words: Kit Heathcock