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FARRO FOOD HERO: WILD WHEAT

FARRO FOOD HERO: WILD WHEAT

Dear to our heart, Wild Wheat has been part of the Farro family since day one when we opened our first store at Lunn Ave.

Our own journey has been tied in with Wild Wheat’s as we have both grown, yet worked hard to stay true to our original ideals as best we could. We feel absolute kinship with Andrew Fearnside, founder and hands on head baker at Wild Wheat.  We are so proud to have him as part of our Farro family of producers.

Andrew’s story is one of absolute passion – for flour, dough and yeast. A Howick boy, his accommodating mum allowed him to whip up a storm in her kitchen encouraging a natural talent that took him to Culinary School and then to London. By chance he began working at one of Sir Terence Conran restaurants Le Pont de la Tour, where he was given the education in bread making that would later become his life. He intended to stay for 6 months and stayed for four years instead; he was able to learn and work as part of the highly regarded bakery team producing a wide variety of breads.

Wild Wheat started in 1999 selling wholesale bread from a small factory in East Tamaki. A loyal following was slowly built over the next 2-3 years as more of Auckland’s leading restaurants and cafès became aware of a new bakery in town.

Andrew and his team specialise in making sourdoughs based on long slow fermentation made from an apple-based sourdough starter, which is over 19 years old. These breads have a unique flavour and texture, with no additives or preservatives and also have great health benefits. The culture keeps on maturing and providing the incredible bread that we get fresh at Farro every morning. The slow fermentation is key to the taste of Andrew’s bread and means his actual production is limited to that slow process. Every loaf takes three days to create from dough through to hand shaping and baking so we work closely with Andrew with our daily orders tweaking and managing so we can get just what we need for you all to have his bread to take home. It certainly makes you appreciate every slice knowing what a process it goes through to get to store.

Andrew’s passion for the ferment is important. He really enjoys dealing with a living thing. As a believer in simplicity with food he sticks to his mantra to be honest and cook with integrity. The plain white sourdough is still his favourite bread. As a largely self-taught baker he tries to soak up any and all information he can about his craft, always striving to improve. Never wanting to stop learning or stop creating is a true driving force for Andrew and for Farro Fresh.

For Andrew, owning Wild Wheat is not about making money, it’s about creating an environment where he can make the best bread possible. A man who is never still, he’s always working hard with his time split between being in the kitchen and out with the staff so they can get an understanding of the passion he has.

One of his truly unique breads is his kumara sourdough. Andrew talked with us about his processes in more depth so we could understand what it takes to have his bread on our tables.

“When I first thought of making Kumara Sourdough my aim was to accentuate the earthiness of the kumara. Golden kumara was the perfect choice. It has so much more flavour and adds great colour. We roast it to get another taste happening; then the use of both whitemeal and rye flours to add more of that earthy feel, malt syrup to boost the colour and crust and we’re away….”

”As with all our ‘sours’ it is a long slow process from dough mixing to finished product. The kumara dough spends its first 6 – 8 hours in bulk, developing yeasts and flavour. We then divide and shape it. From here it spends 24 hours in the fridge, not dormant, but very slowly developing flavour and texture. It is this process that helps to significantly break down the starches and sugars. This keeps the G. I. level low, around half the G. I. of yeasted bread, and makes sourdoughs so much easier to digest and good for you. This is a great option for those watching their gluten intake….”

…”We bake the kumara loaves on a stone hearth for a good 45 – 50 mins to get a rich, robust crust. The whole process, combined with the better keeping qualities of wholemeal and rye, will hopefully mean this bread will still be great toasted 3 – 4 days later. Keep it wrapped in a tea-towel and cut off slices as needed. Kumara sours also make great garlic bread…”

For bread that you can taste is good for you and you know has been lovingly made try Wild Wheat. We celebrate Andrew’s fine bread at 6am every day when we unload the morning delivery often still hot from the ovens and smelling incredible. It makes your mouth water!