Old favourite hits the spot

KINGSLEY Sullivan reignited more than a century of history when he fired up the oven at New Norcia’s monastery in 1993.

The monks at New Norcia had ceased their baking operations only four years earlier, after about 150 years of production, so when Kingsley decided to put on the baker’s apron, he had not only high expectations to live up to, but years of tradition.

It came as no surprise, however, that a man as passionate about his product as Kingsley should make the venture a success. Within three years of lighting the flame in the wood-fired baking oven at New Norcia, a second traditional oven was installed into a shop at Mt Hawthorn, which now doubles as the business’ retail outlet.

The second oven now works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 17 members of the baking team work in shifts to produce the nine tonnes of bread that leaves Mt Hawthorn daily.

On my recent visit to the bakery, the team was busy getting a “small” order of 900 dinner rolls ready for Qantas catering.

Kingsley says he is very lucky that all members of the baking team are passionate about work they do.

In many ways this passion has been responsible for recreating the art or skill of baking, which was being lost thanks to mass production.

These days Kingsley’s 24-hour operation is big business, employing 42 people between the original site at New Norcia and the Mt Hawthorn site. The cafe and adjoining retail outlet are open seven days a week and are always well patronised.

On the weekend you need to be up at sparrows to make it in time to grab some of the “traditionally-made” croissants. Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to taste these delights, as early starts have never been my forte.

I have, however, munched my way through many of the New Norcia loaves. My favourite is the San Franciscan Sour Dough. It has that really distinctive wood-fired crust and a mouth-watering aroma when straight out of the oven. It’s like a journey of discovery, or re-discovery, when you carve into a loaf of New Norcia sour dough.

This is a multi purpose loaf that makes me go weak at the knees, especially when I get the crust and splash vegemite and butter on it (I don’t care if it is wrong to do this, because it’s so good).

And the kids will be the envy of their playmates if their sangers are made with sour dough.

New Norcia bakes the San Franciscan sour dough into everything from dinner rolls and baguettes through to half loaves and the big Benedictine loaf.

Kingsley says one of the secrets of New Norcia’s famous bread is the yeast. The yeast used at New Norcia is fed every day, 365 days a year, with this little brew in continuous use since 1990.

The bakery’s nut cake is world famous, chock full of raw almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, sultanas, raisins and a few other bits, including honey, cocoa and spices – all natural ingredients.

At a recent tasting in Manchester, the nut cake sold out in just a couple of hours.

The recently launched Dom Salvado Pan Chocolatti, made in the original oven in New Norcia, makes you go warm and fuzzy as you slowly devour it.

The New Norcia Bakery is a foody’s delight, with lots besides the bread to add to the shopping basket. If you haven’t been there yet, as that 70s guru said … “do yourself a favour”. And if you get there in time for croissants, grab a few for me.

New Norcia Wood-Fired Bakery

163 Scarborough Beach Road

Mt Hawthorn

Phone: 9443 4114

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