Rising interest in quality breads

PASSION is an understatement when talking about the Italian-inspired sweet and savoury offerings at new Ravenswood bakery Apiece.

US-born owner Ian Lowe said he was obsessed with quality ingredients and the science of fermentation.

He said he began selling his breads, pizzas and pastries to local eateries and gourmet food retailers five months ago after he transformed a former retail space in the outlying suburb of Ravenswood into a kitchen.

He opened his doors for public sales five weeks ago.

``We use no commercial yeast and everything we make is naturally leavened,'' he said.

``We use freshly milled flour, and maintain a culture that I started . . . our pastry takes 48 hours (to ferment) at room temperature, and our breads take 36 hours.

``In addition to that, everything is hand-cut, hand shaped, no machines - everything is done the old way.''

Naturally leavened bread expands during the resting period  and creates a moist, fine-grained texture that has healthy advantages.

Mr Lowe said his might possibly be the only bakery in the country to use the technique.

``It is hard to find bakers in France, Germany, England, even the states, who use natural leavening, but it Italy there are probably 40 or 50 bakeries that do everything with natural leavening, and I am inspired by that,'' he said.

``There are only 20 researchers in the world who study this, and I am in contact with all of them. It is the microbiology of fermentation and specifically  the fermentation as a baker that I am obsessed with,  and trying to bridge the gap between science and artisan baking.''

Mr Lowe said he also liked the way Italians used every available foodstuff sourced from their location.

He was influenced by a guiding principle to use three or four key quality ingredients, sourced locally in season.

A great example of this was his seasonal 1.4 metre Schiacciata d'uva that uses freshly picked pinot noir or chardonnay grapes.

``Schiacciata is the Italian word for smash or flatten . . . this particular bread is one that you find in Tuscany during late summer, early autumn during the grape harvest.

``We do a straight up traditional version using local wine grapes, olive oil, sugar and fennel seed on a very, very, very wet dough.''

Mr Lowe said he worked with 10 to 15 local growers and farmers who brought in products every day, which influenced his daily menu.

He said he moved to Tasmania four years ago, and fell in love with the island.

He has since discovered that he has ancestral connections to the state. ``In a way, it's like a homecoming.'' 

Apiece is open Tuesday to Friday from 8am until 3pm.

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