Baked with love: Sourdough passion project brings artisan-style bread and joy to community

© Provided by ABC Health

For many people lockdown provided the opportunity to take up a new hobby.

This has included trying to bake sourdough bread.

From keeping a sourdough starter alive to then actually baking the bread, the hobby comes with its own challenges.

Many quickly moved on from the fad.

But Amie Kalleske, who lives on a mixed farm with her family in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, stuck at it and now runs a flourishing sourdough business.

Wine and bread on the family farm

The main focus of the Kalleske family farm has long been wine grapes, while wheat has been grown this year to use for the bread.

Mrs Kalleske says the bread, like the wine, is now certifiably organic and has arisen from a passion project.

“If you had told me I would have been selling bread commercially, or even just to friends and family, probably 18 months ago I probably would have laughed at you,” she said.

Ms Kalleske said she has baked bread on and off over the years and during a quiet time on the farm, she decided to try sourdough again.

“I dug the starter out from the back of the fridge and watched countless amounts of videos on YouTube, plus connected with a lot of people on social media.

“I gradually started getting asked to bring a loaf of sourdough whenever I went somewhere for dinner.”

With more and more orders coming in, her smaller oven couldn’t keep up.

She convinced her husband Kym that she needed a dedicated bread oven. It had to be ordered from overseas.

“I can fit 12 loaves of bread in there … so it’s nothing huge and that’s why they call us micro bakers.

“It’s a very small operation, but it’s really exciting.”

She moved her baking from the farmhouse kitchen to the man cave in the shed.

“I am not sure if Kym was real impressed when I converted that into a bakehouse.”

A community connection

Ms Kalleske said the support from locals has been enormous, as well as the support from other sourdough bakers.

She said she has connected with people all over the world who are baking sourdough.

“I’ve connected with many, many sourdough bakers, not just in Australia, but all over the world via social media, which is just fabulous.

“And it’s just such a really welcoming community and it’s just given another reason for our family to connect with the local community as well.”

A passion project

Ms Kalleske said with her three children now at school she was looking for something else to do on the farm.

Finance wasn’t the main incentive — it wasn’t about this dough bringing in more dough.

It was a project that developed with help from a mentoring program.

“I did a 12-week intensive business mentorship program for primary producers called Farmers to Founders, which helps people to start, or value add a new enterprise on their farm.”

This also led to some funding that Ms Kalleske could put towards equipment to help in the baking process.

“We had to show our goals for the business and so I was able to put that funding towards some of my equipment, my oven obviously came and some air conditioning to make the room a bit more stable when making the bread.”

Keeping it artisanal

Being certified organic and making and baking the bread on farm, it made sense to keep the bread as rustic as possible.

“It’s very much an artisan bread and I want that to be quite evident … this is a handmade product made with love, flour, water and salt and that’s it,” Ms Kalleske explained.

“This is never going to be a mass-produced product that you’ll find in a plastic bag on a supermarket shelf.”

Ms Kalleske revels in others being able to enjoy what she bakes as well.

“I love being able to bring something from my family that we eat, something that’s made on our property and bring it into other people’s homes.

“I love sharing it with people, and seeing other people enjoy it is just what lights me up.”

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