Four Canberra food producers chat about how long it takes to make something from scratch
7 July 2014
HOW long does it take to make a croissant from scratch? What about a quality steak? Four food gurus give us the lowdown on what actually goes into the meals you eat.
WE live in a society where consumption (of just about anything) is increasing rapidly.
In a world where many production processes are being rushed to cater to this influx, it’s nice to find people who do the opposite — make their expert product from scratch.
CROSSIANTS AND BAGUETTES
Graham Hudson has been operating Silos Bakery, Canberra’s best bakery according to many, for 16 years. His partner Leanne Gray previously had a bakery in north Canberra from 1988 to 1995 after working as a chef.
So these two know a thing or two about good bread and have been making it from scratch from day one. That’s not the case with many others. “The baking industry in recent decades has moved to premade, frozen products (baguettes, croissants) as a response to labour shortages or lack of skills by the corner store owner who could now have freshly baked products of a reasonable quality,” Graham explains. “Evan France, the home of the baguette and croissant, is not immune to this phenomenon.”
The longest-to-make product is a croissant. So how long does it take to make it from scratch?
A minimum of 24 hours
“It’s a long process! A yeasted dough is allowed to prove in the cold room for at least 12 hours then is beaten to take out the ‘air’ (carbon dioxide produced by fermentation). The dough is again allowed to prove then is laminated with butter by rolling through a pastry sheeter. This provides layers of butter and dough so that the pastry will be light and flaky. The sheets are laid out and cut diagonally in two directions before the individual croissants are rolled out, put onto a tray, then into a proover at 28 degrees to expand before baking,” says Graham.
And the quickest to make is a baguette. How long does that take?
About 15 hours
Graham explains: “A leaven of yeast, flour and water is mixed at 5pm then allowed to ferment in a bin in the cold room overnight. At about 6am the leaven is put back in the mixer and more flour, water and salt is added. Within an hour the dough is a bubbling mass. Pieces of dough are weighed off and rolled into baguettes or stretched into stiratos (ciabatta) before going into the proover then the oven.”
About 15 hours for these.
A QUALITY STEAK
Greg and Chris Stuart of Minto Galloway Stud have been producing meat for marketing for about 12 years. “We started marketing beef for two main reasons. Firstly we were in drought and it was costing a lot of money in feed to keep the cattle alive, so we decided it would be a good idea to feed our cattle to a stage where they were suitable for marketing for meat and by doing so get a return on the cost of feeding. The second reason was the one that actually made the first reason possible; we have a unique breed of cattle, called Galloway cattle, one of the oldest breeds of beef cattle,” Greg explains. “Galloways are remarkably feed efficient, hardy, are non-selective grazers, calves easily and produces excellent eating quality, well-marbled beef on a total grass diet. The resultant meat is so much healthier for consumers. In fact, the nutritional and eating quality testing of Galloway cattle resulted in Galloway cattle being inducted into the Slow Food international Ark of Taste, the international hall of fame for eating quality and purity.”
So for a quality cut of Galloway — how long are we talking?
Three to three-and-a-half years.
“The process starts with us selecting our cattle for their eating quality characteristics (muscle pattern, adequate fat cover, structural correctness, temperament (very important) and moderate size and moderate weight gain). We select the cows we then want to join to selected bulls, and nine-and-a-half months later we get a calf. If it’s a female it’s marketed as a breeding animal. If it is a male it’s generally steered and we grow it for 24 to 30 months. After this time we ‘feel’ them regularly for eating quality, and every two weeks select at least two (we run a herd of about 200) to be taken to a licensed abattoir at Cootamundra — a 350 kilometre round trip but the closest available abattoir,” Greg explains.
Greg and Stuart put the animals in the abattoir themselves, trying to minimise the stress on them as long as possible. They don’t use bikes, dogs or cattle prods and give the cattle a life that is as natural and gentle as possible up to the point of their slaughter.
“The carcases are then ‘dry’ aged for 16 days and then our licensed butcher cuts the meat up to our specifications, then the individual cuts are packaged in Cryovac for our marketing. They are Cryovaced so people can see and handle the cuts without fear of contamination of the meat and it also enables ‘wet’ ageing. It is illegal to sell meat that has not been processed at a licenced abattoir and butcher.”
Well-marbled eye fillet. That’s three-and-a-half years for that.
Anthea Cahill of Real Chai has been making chai in Canberra for six years. “I fell in love with chai on an overseas holiday and was hooked,” she remembers. She came home to her public servant job after that holiday but soon realised there was nothing on the market that even came close to her overseas chai experience. So she decided to take matters into her own hands. “I thought: Right, if I can’t buy what I want I’ll do it myself.” She returned to her office job and at every day at 3pm she would make all her colleagues chai. “It was the only part of my day I loved so I set about making into my full-time career.
How long does it take to make chai from scratch?
“We make all of our chai blends fresh each week and the whole process of blending and packing takes a full day to keep up with demand,” Anthea explains. “All the ingredients are individually sourced, and we then grind and chop the spices for each recipe and blend everything together. Each tin or packet is then hand filled for sale. I think it’s a safe bet to say I’d be one of only a handful of artisan chai makers in Australia. There are lots of bigger companies producing chai as part of their tea ranges but not exclusively — and not by hand!”
GERMAN BRATWURST SAUSAGES
Father and son team, Thomas and Alex Hanner, have been making sausages for personal use for generations. They migrated to Canberra from the Black Forrest in Germany in 1999 but were unable to find any quality sausages. Over the years family and friends kept asking the Hanners to make them sausages … and then they’d ask for their friends. So three years ago the Hanners decided to start making them for the public — The Brathaus gourmet sausages. Because they are handmade they only make enough to sell at markets, and you can find them at Capital Region Farmers Markets (EPIC) on Saturdays and Old Bus Depot markets on Sundays in Canberra.
How long does it take to make a Bratwurst sausage from scratch?
“Most of our recipes are based on traditional German Bratwursts, however we have slightly personalised them. The Bauernbrat (Farmers Brat) is a secret family recipe and this is one of the most popular ones on our menu. The longest Bratwurst to make is the smoked one and it generally takes around 48 hours from start to end,” Thomas explains. “First we break down the animal carcus into cuts of meat and we only ever use the shoulder, belly, neck and ham., Depending on the type of Bratwurst we are making, it’s usually a mix of those cuts. We then mince and mix the cuts together, add spices and various other ingredients depending in the type we are making. After this we put the mixture into natural casings, and the Bratwurst that require smoking and smoked. All of our sausages are then hanged for 24 hours, and then finally packaged and labelled in readiness for the markets to be sold the following morning.