Artisan style ... Organic Bread Bar baker Andreas Rost with business partner Kim Orden. Photo: Steven Siewert
Another week on the bread trail, tracking yet another new bakery. Is there any limit to Sydney's taste for good bread? This time we're in Paddington, at the distinctively different Organic Bread Bar, which has a turquoise paint job fronting a converted garage, and with Andreas Rost who, with his peaked cap and tiny goatee, looks like a 1920s Trotskyist.
Instead of manning the barricades, Rost is happily shaping loaves, with his trusty old-fashioned scales on one side and his five-deck electric oven behind him.
As he puts the second bake of the day, a light rye sourdough, into the ovens, he looks across his wood-topped kneading bench and sees locals perched on red stools that his business partner, Kim Orden, picked up on eBay, and eating off an eclectic assortment of gaming tables, pine boards on milk crates and repainted metal bistro tables.
The white soudough loaves at Organic Bread Bar. Photo: Steven Siewert
Rost was born in 1968, a year of political turmoil in Europe and the US. He came to Sydney after criss-crossing the world, first to Auckland in New Zealand, then to the Ayers Rock Resort, Tanunda in the Barossa Valley then back to Germany, France and Switzerland and finally to Sydney three years ago where he baked for three years at Organic Republic Bakery in Bondi.
He trained as a baker in Stuttgart, Germany, not far from the farm where he was born, one of six children in a family of 10. ''I remember my grandmother baking bread every week when I was about five and I must have shown interest in it. She said, 'You should be a baker when you grow up','' he says. ''So I grew up thinking that's what I would do.''
When he was 15, he did his three-year apprenticeship and then did another two years to qualify as a pastry chef. ''In Germany, you need an advanced certificate to run a bakery, so that's what I did,'' he says.
But instead of opening a shop, he succumbed to wanderlust - he blames his father's dream of migrating to Canada - and hopped on a plane to New Zealand in 1992 where he went from making linzer torte and yeasted rye breads to meat pies, sausage rolls, muffins and scones. To be fair, his boss for three years encouraged him to do German- and French-style baking and experiment, too.
''He said do something different and I didn't know what to do,'' Rost says. ''In Germany, we're never asked to think about doing anything different with bread. I made a sauerkraut and juniper berry sourdough and banana and parsley bread twice a month.''
So far he's been less adventurous at the Organic Bread Bar he and Orden, 32, opened six months ago. It's early days. He is waiting on a flour mill so he can mill his own wholemeal flour and use finely-milled flour for croissants and sponges. He's also expecting delivery of a cereal crusher so he can make rye flakes to add texture to his light rye.
For the moment, he's keeping a small range of light sourdoughs: white, multigrain and rye, with an open crumb and a thin crust. His l'ancienne loaf with its dusting of bran looks like a wonky ciabatta with large holes in the crumb and a loose crust. Its unusual flavour is the tiny amount of malt he added once by accident and liked so much he's kept doing it. To create his supple, elegant breads, he invests in a long, slow fermentation done partly at ambient temperature.
A spelt loaf, pretzels, rolls a l'ancienne and a 100 per cent dark rye (weekends only) complete the savoury offerings. On the sweet side are biscuits - rosemary and walnut, and cinnamon and hazelnut - croissants, cheesecake and flourless chocolate and orange cakes. A German applecake with sour cream icing is on the cards.
With its exposed copper pipes, driveway entrance and a funky bun divider machine that looks like a Dalek from Doctor Who, Rost and Orden have created an original space that mirrors Rost's artisanal baking style.
And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the gentle clacking of the traditional weights and measures of the well-worn scales he uses. ''I can tell what the dough weighs by the sound,'' he says. ''Baking, cooking is about using all your senses.''
ORGANIC BREAD BAR
356 South Dowling Street, Paddington, 9357 4448
White sourdough, $5.50/750g.
Black russian rye (weekends only), $7/750g.
Rolls a l'ancienne $1 each (90g)