Story & photos Matthew Michaelis
Heart – felt baking
What’s in a name? In some cases people sit for hours stabbing in the dark, grabbing at suggestions and generally trying to inject some meaning into a business name. Other times, you just hear the name, you see the product and you say to yourself Yes!
Heart Breads is one of those – it may seem perhaps corny until you meet the products, see their process and check the results. No, I’m not a scientist, I’d consider myself more of a culinary impressionist.
When it comes to textures and ambience, Heart Breads is a well of rustic imagery that I’d like to spend more time painting into words; alas, we have little space. I’ll begin with this farm and its good owners, Rachel Pearson and her husband Simon Ivanac.
I asked Rachel what she feels about her business; ‘Heart Bread the business is connected through to our lives.
It’s really raw and authentic in the true sense. For our flours we use only Demeter Mill, the organic and biodynamic pioneers in Australia, and we were the first in the area to use all organic flours.
‘We have several new lines, including a new loaf made from old grains and a new vegan line with small treat items such as the banana split, bananas fried in coconut oil and soaked with sultanas, then spread on a sweet focaccia dough – the bananas grown on our farm,’ Rachel told me. ‘Everything that Heart Breads does is done by hand. Building the ovens, kneading the dough, planting and harvesting, cutting wood, feeding the chooks and of course all the breads, buns, brioche, slabs, splits and swirls are formed by hand.
‘There are no tins, forms or dividing machines in sight,’ Rachel said.
Heart Breads sells at New Brighton Farmers Market on Tuesdays, Byron Farmers Market on Thursdays and Mullumbimby Farmers Market on Fridays.
The Crabbes Creek community is in a little town just northwest of Brunswick Heads.
John and Gina Hutton created the Crabbes Creek wood-fired business around four years ago. John was building wood-fired ovens for others originally, then they decided to build one themselves.
‘We built a couple of ovens and a bakery on our 47 acres. It’s a one hundred per cent lifestyle choice – we are heavily into food and the making of it so we started experimenting with sourdough and created a variety for market.
‘The rest is, as they say, history. We also have a wood-fired oven on a mobile trailer onsite at the Murwillumbah and Mullumbimby farmers markets. We produce a thin crisp Italian-style pizza – à la carte or à la trailer to be more precise,’ John told me.
‘We have three children from seven to eleven years old; they help out and know a fair bit about the whole process. Collecting kindling and off-cuts, they create their own designs for baking.
‘It’s the whole picture for a family to grow up in. It’s hard work but for us it pays off. Our stall is popular as a result of our large range of sourdough breads – fourteen in total.’
Murwillumbah Farmers Market on Wednesday and Mullumbimby Farmers Market on Friday and Mobile Catering for pizza.
Enquiries 0415 934 793
Facebook: Crabbes Creek Woodfired
Nico lives in Mullumbimby, is father to five children and is a self-taught baker and entrepreneur.
It was a desire to stay in Australia that started a journey with bread – ‘I got to a point where I was at a crossroad – it was either moving back to Italy or learning a trade or a skill. I was at the airport in Rome and went into a newsagent and saw a book – Come fare Il pane in casa: How to bake bread at home.
‘My first attempts at baking were at home in 2008. These early breads were building quality, great taste though – if you could chew it. I eventually refined the methods. I made a starter dough and held on to it for a few years until a cyclone claimed it.
‘I started spreading the love and breads and baked goods, first to friends then to market and later wholesale. For me baking is connecting with Italy, but it’s also humanity; it’s an ancient job making bread and you’re working with something that’s alive, too,’ Nico told me.
Nico sells his wares at the northern rivers weekend markets, also Mullumbimby IGA and Green Garage in Byron Bay.
Enquiries: 0416 352 784