In a quick-fix world of preservative-loaded fast bake loaves, Bread & Butter’s rising star Isabel Pasch talks about their artisan organic bread, famous for its European heritage, delicious flavours and health benefits.
Running a successful bakery was never in Isabel Pasch’s grand plan. Born and raised in Germany, the director of Grey Lynn-based Bread & Butter bakery dreamed of making the world a better place with her masters degree in micro-biology, not baking bread in NZ. But here she is, and aren’t we glad! Eight years after she started her first tiny bakery in Ellerslie, Isabel has earned a swathe of fans who are loyal to her tasty range of organic breads.
“In Germany, people don’t buy their bread from the supermarket, but instead they get it daily from the local baker. And it is often delicious, healthy, organic bread,” says Isabel, who moved to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, and now Bread & Butter bakery manager, Tim Hinchcliff, and their two small children in 2010.
“When we came to New Zealand, I missed the nutritious freshly baked German bread and, with my science background, I wanted to share and help educate people on why organic bread that’s been made in a traditional way, is so wonderful and good for you.”
Understanding the role wholegrains or fibre plays in our gut is important, and Isabel suggests that eating a slice of organic sourdough every day is a good way to boost the right balance of our intestinal microflora, and improve digestion, mood, immunity and energy levels.
“People have been eating grains for thousands of years across Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It’s only in the last 40 years that people have started to add chemicals to breads. But you won’t find anything in Bread & Butter loaves that your great-great grandmother wouldn’t have used in her baking.”
In 2012 Isabel found a larger site in Grey Lynn and opened Bread & Butter, from which she supplies Farro’s six stores, as well as some of Auckland’s well-known restaurants and hotels, with their daily breads.
“We have some very keen customers who have followed us right from the start. For example, I have just sent 20 kgs of bread to a customer who is now in Dargaville!” Isabel comes from a long line of enthusiastic home bakers and her family recipes have passed from her grandmother, to her mother and now to Isabel. German artisan bread recipes were carefully honed and adapted for the Kiwi climate and palate.
“New Zealand families love our Swiss loaf. It is 100 per cent spelt and very healthy and low in gluten. Mild, moist, soft and versatile… kids love it! It is such a healthy grain and perfect for sandwiches,” says Isabel. And the loaf has just garnered another award in the Best from the Kitchen Bench category in the recent NZ Farmers Market Food Awards. For Isabel though, she can’t go past the Bread & Butter Rye, which is her version of the German pumpernickel (a dense, steam-cooked bread), eliciting flavours of her homeland.
“The test of a really good loaf of bread is in the crust. I look for flavour, caramelisation and complex flavours that come to life in your mouth. “To bake a beautiful bread, you have to be creative and exacting. It is a combination of art and science. A baker can start with the same four ingredients each time (flour, water, salt and yeast) but with just a tiny variance to temperature or the starter, you can get a completely different loaf.”
As the business has grown over the last six years, Isabel has been able to step back from the kneading and shaping to focus on her wholesale customers, recipe development and taking care of her family of bakery staff. “I’d say there is a good deal of magic that we put into our bread,” Isabel says. Keep your eyes peeled on the Farro bakery shelves for a recent addition – the quinoa sourdough. We’re sure she will have cast a good spell on it!