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Margaret River Woodfired Bread

Among toilet paper and other staples, flour was quick to sell out during the pre-COVID-19 shopping onslaught. There are a number of theories as to why that was the case. Some thought there would literally be no food left in two weeks and would have to resort to damper, which at Dirty Clean Food, we know won’t be the case. We have plenty of regenerative food to go around.

But perhaps the most logical explanation is people’s penchant for baking during long days at home. If you’re one of these people, you’ll know there are fewer pleasures better than slicing freshly baked bread, which is why that initial slice turns into ten. And shortly after, you feel more bloated than a beached blowfish.

If you just said, ‘But I can eat three pizzas and not get bloated.” Then congratulations. You have the stomach of an ox. The rest of us have to avoid such indulgences. Or try to anyway. The reason is that bread has gluten which is the group of proteins that, when digested, can cause a bit of an upset stomach.

But you knew that already, right? 

Here’s what you may not know:

Bread isn’t the problem. The reason you feel bloated when you eat mass-produced bread (or even bread you make at home) is largely to do with the type of flour and chemicals in the bread.

The flour commonly used by bakers (and maybe by you, too) is made from a grain introduced to Western Australia in the 1970s which, among other things, has a high-gluten content.

Also, to make the flour last longer, manufacturers of this flour process the grain and remove the bran and germ, which takes most if not all of the fibre, vitamins, and minerals (the good stuff, in other words).

To substitute, bakers of mass-produced bread add supplements and chemicals which, as you probably guessed, isn’t that great for you. So that’s why health bloggers tell you not to eat bread.

By the way, we don’t mean to bag out on this type of production. All we’re saying is that there are more nutritious and less-bloaty options.

Take Margaret River Woodfired Bread, for example.

Last week, we had a virtual sit-down with Santana, the master-baker behind Margaret River Woodfired Bread.

And we, must say, even as a regenerative food brand, we were very impressed with the lengths Santana goes to—to make sure the bread is delicious, sustainable and good for you.

“The philosophy centres around going back to the traditional art of bread-making,” Santana said.

We asked what is involved in this traditional art. And he detailed many things that will either make you a more savvy-isolation baker or a greater appreciator of artisan bread. 

To make your life easier, we’ve summed up the main points here:

Instead of using refined flour, Santana sources off Eden Valley Farm, a local manufacturer that makes 100% biodynamic flour which is stone-ground the traditional way.

The flour also comes from a type of wheat with lower levels of gluten which was introduced to Australia over 100 years ago (due to the grain’s ability to thrive in our climate without added fertilisers). Basically, all that means is that the flour is rich in nutrients and gives you fewer tummy aches. So you can indulge without the pain - within reason, of course.

Santana also uses ancient recipes and traditional techniques. Mass-produced techniques are about cutting corners to maximise efficiency. On the other hand, Santana is about patience and care. He uses a traditional sourdough culture and gently kneads the dough with an old mixer that keeps plenty of air in the mix. This, too, makes the bread easier to digest as well as helping you absorb the nutrients.

Instead of using additives, the dough is given time to rest before Santana shapes it by hand. Then the bread is baked in wood-fired ovens built from volcanic stone.

The wood-fired ovens are pre-heated, allowing the stones to heat up to the right temperature before the dough is placed on them. The benefit of cooking on bare stone is this: You get a unique crust and the stones are slowly cooling (a descending temperature is ideal when baking bread). Finally, Santana judges when to take the bread off the stone. No timer. No temperature gauge. He makes a call based on look and feel with his decades of experience.

You see?

Pretty impressive.

Obviously, you can try and make your own version at home.

Or you can buy Santana’s artisan loaves here, on Dirty Clean Food’s website.

You see, as we stated here, this story is one of many we are doing as part of a greater initiative to partner with like-minded local businesses and producers during this challenging time.

Like many wholesale businesses, Margaret River Woodfired Bread has lost a few customers. So we’re helping Santana, and you, by being the conduit through which you two connect.

So when you buy the bread, remember, you’re not only looking after your tummy (and taste buds), you’re supporting Santana and the organic producers he uses.

If you would like to purchase a selection of bread—you can do so HERE.

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