Bakeries have a strong history in Ballarat; it’s one of oldest industries in the region dating back as far as 1854, only a few years after Ballarat was founded.
But since the days of baking by candlelight, the role of the artisan baker has come a long way. From ciabatta and sourdough, to almond croissants and brioche doughnuts, today we’re spoilt for choice when we walk through the doors of our favourite artisan bakery.
We caught up with head baker and owner of 1816 Bakehouse, Josh Chapman, to talk about the secrets behind the perfect loaf of bread.
Where did your baking journey begin?
My dad worked in bakeries for my whole life, so I grew up around dough. I‘d sleep on flour bags as a toddler, and was cracking eggs as soon as I was tall enough to reach the bench. My passion for dough began here and followed me through from my apprenticeship at Baker’s Delight, my time at The Forge, and the Ballarat Specialist School, all the way to opening my own bakery.
You were a familiar a face at The Forge, what inspired your move from pizza dough to bread dough?
While I was at The Forge, I had the opportunity to be involved in the bakery program at the Ballarat Specialist School. I was there for a number of years and loved it, and then a few things fell into place and it all came together for 1816 to begin.
Why did you decide to open an artisan bakery in Ballarat?
As a baker, my wife and I would travel to Trentham or Daylesford to go to a bricks and mortar artisan bakery. We decided that Ballarat was missing this experience and that we wanted to be able to provide that service to our local community.
Can you tell us about the building and the name 1816 Bakehouse?
The building was retail for many years, and it was originally two shops that we turned into one, and that’s where our name comes from. We couldn’t decide on a name for ages while we were fitting out the shop, and we were standing out the front and looked up. We’ve got the beautiful original shop numbers 16 and 18 above our doors, which is where our name and our logo comes from.
Bakeries have a strong history in Ballarat. How does it feel to know you’re continuing a traditional trade that is deeply engrained in the story of Ballarat?
It’s an honour to continue a tradition that has been established for so long in Ballarat. We like that our production stays pretty true to the basics. We have electronic scales, a mixer, our oven and a bun cutter, and everything else is done by hand. I’m glad we’ve got our modern stuff though, mixing doughs by hand and lighting the fire for the oven at 2am does not sound fun!
What’s the secret to the perfect loaf of bread?
Patience, practice and passion.
Not only can we get our daily bread, but you make pies and sweet treats. What’s the most popular treat at 1816 Bakehouse?
Our most popular sweet treat is our almond croissant. It’s one of our hand rolled croissants, filled with our house made almond paste and topped with flaked almonds. We call it our stegosaurus croissant, because we stand all the little flaked almonds up on top like a stegosaurus’ back.
Our most popular pie is our brisket pie, which we make with locally smoked brisket from Rebellion Barbecue, our signature gravy and a little hint of chilli.
What do you love most about the Ballarat region?
It’s been amazing to watch Ballarat develop into a food destination, and Ballarat’s hospitality industry is great to be a part of. It’s like a big family, everyone knows everyone. And there’s so many great new venues popping up, like Roy’s – just down the road from us – and Ragazzone on Mair Street, as well as long-time favourites, L’espresso and Turret Café on Sturt Street.
What’s Ballarat’s best kept secret?
Ballarat’s best kept secret is the amazing local producers and the high level of produce coming out of our region. We’ve got some top-quality suppliers, like Salt Kitchen Charcuterie for sausages and ham, and Hellbilly Roasting for coffee. From Café Sidra (in Learmonth) for a cider to Big Jims for chilli sauce, you can get everything you need from someone local.
What are the top three recommendations of things to do in Ballarat?
I might sound a bit biased, but the Armstrong Street food precinct is a must visit. The street has really transformed into Ballarat’s own little food oasis. There’s a venue for every occasion on the street, from a causal drink at Hop Temple, to a sausage roll on the go for lunch from 1816, to Saturday night dinner at The Forge.
The Yarowee Trail is a great walk to do with the family. Pack a picnic, and take the kids out from the CBD out east up to the Gong Gong Reservoir. Great place for kids to run around, and nice spot for a picnic.
The Ballarat Farmer’s Market is a great Saturday morning, lots of local stalls, around Lake Wendouree. Get some veggies for the week, a beer or two from Red Duck Brewery, and then a Tim Bone toastie for lunch.