Confession time! We love bread. And not in a take-it-or-leave-it, a sarmie-once-every-now-and-again way. In a slightly obsessive, might-have-to-see-someone-about-it way. Therefore, as mildly overeager connoisseurs are wont, we also happen to be super fussy about the loaves that make it into our baskets, onto our harvest tables and finally end up slathered in lashings of butter on our plates. Which is why we have to tell you more about Woodstock Bakery.
Public Service Announcement: Everyone! Stop what you are doing right now and go and buy some bread at Woodstock Bakery. No day that starts with the purchase of a freshly-baked loaf from this joyous ode to the holy art of good and proper bread creation can end badly. So who exactly is responsible for creating bread that is this close to heaven?
Meet Paul Hartmann and Paul Cremer, co-owners of Woodstock Bakery. Cremer was a graduate of Hartmann’s South African Chefs Academy class in 2007; and the pair joined forces in April 2013 to open Woodstock Bakery, originally located at The Biscuit Mill, now in Salt River. These days, they are revered as some of South Africa’s most significant artisanal bread makers.
“It all started with Markus Farbinger of Ile de Pain in Knysna,” says Cremer. “Anything anyone in South Africa knows about artisanal bread and how to bake it originated with him. He works tirelessly to preserve the old techniques and traditions and has opened his doors to teach so many people, including us, about making bread the old-fashioned way and the possibilities and opportunities that lie in that.”
It was their shared experience at one of Markus’ workshops at Gastronomica and Cremer’s 3-year apprenticeship at Ile de Pain that ultimately set the stage for the Woodstock Bakery. Together, the Pauls laid the groundwork that would allow them to follow the traditional methods of bread making by using the best local ingredients and handling it as little as possible from scaling to firing.
Hand-shaped, wood-fired bread and baked goods made the old-fashioned way with carefully sourced, honest-to-goodness ingredients and prepared without any shortcuts. Sounds deceptively simple, right? However, in a world where many producers are single-mindedly chasing profit and losing sight of the integrity of their product, this is an increasingly rare thing to find.
Walking in the busy, yeasty, warmly bustling space that is the 280-square-metre Woodstock Bakery in Salt River, it’s easy to see that the 20+ craftspeople at work here all sincerely love what they do. There is a joy and certainty to their movements, easy camaraderie in their interactions, and unbridled delight in their creations that infuse everything they do.
As you can imagine, the stuff that comes out of the ovens (cheekily named Bella and Stella) in this happy space is absolutely, mind-bendingly delicious and thoroughly nutritious. Which is why an ever-increasing roster of 85+ restaurants, eateries and bread stockists in the Mother City have given it their seal of approval by choosing Woodstock Bakery as their bread purveyor of choice. If you’ve recently dined at Luke Dale-Roberts’ Naturalis and other establishments such as Chef’s Warehouse, Clarke’s, Culture Club Cheese and The General Store, that was Woodstock Bakery bread, my friend.
FUN FACT: Despite the unprecedented demand for their bread, the Pauls have chosen to cap their production at a maximum capacity of 800 loaves per day to ensure that a very high standard is maintained. Joy to the world!
When & Where
Woodstock Bakery is located at 13 Brickfield Road in Salt River, Cape Town. Opening hours are from 06:30 – 14:00 Monday to Friday, and on Sundays. On Saturdays, you can pick up some of their delicious creations at Oranjezicht City Farm Market Day or The Neighbourgoods Market, both running from 09:00 – 14:00.
Eatsplorer recommends: Pretty much every single thing that comes out of an oven at Woodstock Bakery. For real. However, if you must choose (which is blatant sacrilege), we’d go for the butter croissants (sheer heaven), chocolate breadsticks (so good it borders on sinful), delicate brioche or earthy, delicious 7-grain bread. Or, you know, the rye, potato bread, ciabatta, baguettes or sourdough. Just everything, really. ALL of the Woodstock Bakery bread. Just DO IT!