Did you know that everyone’s favourite super sourdough is baked fresh daily from a neighbourhood bakery in the heart of Gillitts?
Story and pictures: Jess Smith
Sourdough became a buzzword during lockdown. Novice bakers across the world were tending starters and sharing photos of their crusty homemade bread. However, for Tim Keep, his sourdough journey would extend way beyond the lifting of restrictions with his serendipitous purchase of an artisanal bakery.
Now known as Manna Bakehouse, Tim and his team of bakers turn out 2 000 loaves a week from their stunning new premises in Hamilton Park, with Tim making daily deliveries from Pietermaritzburg to Ballito.
It’s a far cry from Super Sourdough’s roots in a Winston Park garage, where Greg and Janita Bold were making just a few loaves a day for their Kloof eatery La Verdure Real Food Café. When the couple decided to emigrate to the UK in 2020, a chance encounter led to Tim hearing about the business, and he was soon setting up Manna Bakehouse’s first premises in Gillitts Centre with just two ovens and a small cold room.
Tim didn’t know much about sourdough back then, but he did know a good opportunity when he saw one and, with the help of baker Trinity Windsay, he set about learning all there was to know about making this traditional bread.
So, what’s the secret recipe? Super Sourdough is made from purified water, Eureka Mills stoneground flour (they go through a ton of it a week!) and salt, without any additives or preservatives. “Only what Mother Earth has given us,” says Tim.
The pièce de résistance is the starter (or preferment). Full of beneficial bacteria, it is a live dough which is mixed with the bread flour and replaces the need for a raising agent, such as baker’s yeast. Manna Bakehouse has five starters bubbling away at all times – four wheat and the other a rye. “Our original starter is called Eve as it is how our sourdough came to be in the first place,” says Tim.
Authentic sourdough is renowned for its distinctive taste and impressive gut-friendly health benefits, being rich in protein and fibre, as well as packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are easily absorbed by the body. It is also naturally vegan-friendly.
Making the perfect loaf of sourdough is a lengthy process, with Manna’s bakers needing to carefully monitor ambient temperature and adjust proofing time in the cold room and across the five ovens accordingly. All ingredients are mixed by hand and eight loaves are baked at a time, with each loaf taking over 48 hours to make from start to delivery.
And it’s not just Super Sourdough on Manna Bakehouse’s menu. Speciality loaves are baked on certain days of the week and include roasted garlic and rosemary, activated charcoal and 100% plain rye sourdough.
Manna Bakehouse has also started serving takeaway coffees, with fresh soups and pastries in the pipeline, as well as plans to start stocking local staples. Tables and chairs have also been placed beneath the beautiful Fig entwined tree outside the bakery, offering the perfect spot for a neighbourly chat.
“What could be nicer than picking up a fresh loaf of bread and some homemade soup and staples for dinner?” asks Tim. We couldn’t agree more!
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