There is no ‘secret recipe’ for the little wood-fired oven bakery in Sheffield having become such a popular place to stock up on sourdough loaves, croissants and pastries. It’s simply about good, slow food, made sustainably, served with love.
“There is something romantic about going to your local bakery or butchery and buying food from someone who knows your name. I like that. Isn’t that what food is all about?”
It was a combination of necessity and a passion for imparting knowledge with others that led to Swiss-born David Henry launching his bakery, Breadologie, on Claremont Farm near Sheffield Beach at the end of last year.
With years of management experience in the hospitality industry under his belt, David initially set out to open a training centre (something he still plans to do) on the site where the bakery now sits. “The bakery seemed like a good place to start. It was always going to be a part of the ‘live learning centre’, and if we do go back into a hard lockdown, we will be able to stay open because we are considered an essential service.”
Although born in Switzerland, David spent most of his life in Mozambique, having moved there with his family when he was 9 years old. The youngest of four children, David says “he had an idyllic childhood in Mozambique, attending an international school where I learnt English and Portuguese and was exposed to wide variety of cultures.”
It was this experience, he believes, that guided him towards his career in hospitality. “I always loved to cook from a young age and learned a lot from my mom who is an amazing cook.”
After graduating from hotel school in Switzerland in 2008, David returned to Africa. “Most people were going to Dubai, but I liked the idea of working in a smaller hotel or lodge with a sustainable ethos, rather than a golf course in the middle of the dessert!”
Back in Mozambique, David and his fiancé Monica found a job as the management couple of a small, eco-lodge in a remote part of Mozambique. After three years (and contracting malaria more than 10 times each!), the couple headed back to Switzerland for a while. It was there, while working as a food and beverage lecturer at a hotel school, that David discovered his passion for training.
“I fell in love with teaching and training and we both missed Africa. We returned to Mozambique and set out to start a professional hospitality training company.” Things didn’t go as planned, and they decided to move to South Africa, and Ballito.
Soon after arriving David found two great job opportunities, putting together training and management programmes at Prince’s Grant and Fairmont Zimbali. But then Covid-19 hit and everything changed.
“We had to put our heads together and come up with something unique and sustainable. When the site at Claremont farm became available I jumped to it.” David sees the location as the ideal spot to open his hospitality training centre – and in the meantime, it’s a bakery! “We thought it was a good idea to start with the bakery, because we could work towards our goal while still running a sustainable business.”
Breadologie’s appeal lies in its uniqueness, including the fact that everything is made with David’s sourdough starter (live culture) as a base and that they work on a property with no electricity, which means everything is baked in a wood-fired oven. “People really seem to like it. Not just our bread, but the space that we are trying to create here. It’s sort of an organic concept that evolves and changes all the time. I love collaborating and working with people and hearing all their ideas. There are so many possibilities and we are open to them,” he says.
Sustainability is important to David – both in terms of being kind to the environment and also teaching people to live organically and help them feed and sustain themselves. He also believes in the ‘slow food’ ethos. “If you want to start a wood-fired bakery and earn a living, the recipe is right here and I don’t mind telling you how. I love sharing information. There are no ‘secret recipes’ here,” he laughs. “If you want my sourdough starter recipe, I’ll give it to you. I also don’t want to run a bakery where I am stressed out and always running around with no time to sit down and chat to the customers who go out of their way to come buy their bread here. The real reward is in the human connection for me.”
Breadologie is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 8am to 4pm (they close at 12 on Sundays). They sell wholewheat, white and 100% rye bread and their croissants (chocolate, cheese and custard) and chelsea buns are insanely popular!
Details: Breadologie, Claremont Farm, Sheffield Beach Road, @breadologie_sa
Text: Leah Shone Photographs: Mary-Ann Palmer
DAVID’S SIMPLE (YET DELICIOUS) SOURDOUGH RECIPE
(yields 2 large breads)
You’ll need: 800g Stoneground, GMO-free white flour, 460g water, 10g salt, 320g sourdough starter
To make: Mix the flour, water and sourdough starter in a bowl using a wooden spoon. Mix until a ball of dough forms, then let the dough rest (or autolyse) for 1 hour. Once autolysed, add salt. Make sure to mix well and then begin kneading, preferably by hand so you get a feel for the dough. (For me this is crucial … understanding the dough. It’s also a great workout! You will know you can stop kneading when the dough passes the window pane test. This is done by putting some oil in your hands and gently stretching a piece of dough, as if you were blowing a bubble with a chewing gum. If it breaks and tears, keep kneading. If it stretches and is elastic you are good for the next step.) Cover and rest at room temperature for bulk fermentation.
Time will be reduced to around 3 to 5 hours when hot and humid. Keep an eye on your dough – once it has doubled in size, it is ready. Split into two equal parts and shape both into large balls. If you want round bread, place it directly in a round bowl. Use a dry cloth with plenty flour on it to ensure the dough does not stick to the bowl (if you have a banneton or shaping basket, use that), and let it rise a little more in the bowl so it take shape nicely – around another 2 hours.
Once you are satisfied with the size of your bread, cover it and let it sit in your fridge overnight.
In the morning, crank your oven to its highest setting (bread enjoys high temperatures of 250C). Remove from fridge and place them on a baking tray. Score put in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Add more time, if you feel it needs it. Remove from oven and rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing (if you can … the smell will be hard to resist!). Enjoy freshly baked bread with cheese, preserves, a good glass of wine and good company!