Santana is the baker behind Margaret River Woodfired Bread. If you haven’t tried the delicious sourdough – make sure you grab a loaf hot off the press at 3pm any day at their bakery on Boodjidup Road in Margaret River.
It’s a cold day in Autumn and we’re watching apprentice baker Sam build up a healthy sweat while maintaining three woodfired ovens and endless paddle loves of bread: fired up at around 700 degrees, they’re gradually tempered back down during the afternoon’s bake. One can’t help but flick forward to January and reimagine the scene behind the storefront of Margaret River Woodfired bread on an average summer’s day.
“It’s probably 45 degrees all day long back here in the summer,” head baker and co-owner Santana Thorburn laughs, a sheen on his own brow. “That’s why we’re all so skinny. It’s physical as well as mental. With woodfired we don’t just time the dough, we time the ovens – we’re lighting a fire so we’ve only got four hours to get it all through.”
You can’t go too far in the Margaret River region without bumping into one of Santana’s woodfired loaves of bread. He and his wife Cherie supply around 30 cafes and winery restaurants from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste, along with retails purchase in select local supermarkets and delis. Not to mention their Boodjidup Road bakery where locals line up for the 3pm bake, stripping Santana’s shelf of heavy rye breads, seeded sourdoughs and the lovingly shaped signature loaf – the Wave bread.
Theirs is a compact organisation, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been impacted by Covid: closure of hospitality ripped the spine out of their business. Two bakers were laid off, one since re-hired as locals rallied to buy local and ensure continuation of a valuable community resource: with 20 years experience as a baker, 15 of those working with woodfired breads, Santana’s is a skill set worth preserving and lauding. He works without thermometers, without gauges, just by feel.
This ‘feel’ is what keeps people coming back for loaves that are uniquely delicious. Santana and Cherie are deeply appreciative of the increased custom. And as restrictions shift and more of the hospitality and tourism sectors are gradually reopened, once can only hope the husband and wife team come back stronger. Cherie certainly believes this readjustment to how we think about the world will be beneficial in the long term.
“It’s making people realise through what happened at the supermarkets – the panic buying and empty shelves – what the food chain is and how it works,” Cherie muses. “It brings local awareness and support for local food producers. Our local community, and the visitors, are so lucky because we can get our staples direct.”
Santana & Cherie’s Mediterranean Bread Bake
- 2-3 day old Sourdough
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Italian herbs
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil
In a small baking tray break up an old loaf of bread (best to use Margaret River Woodfired).
Add olives, cherry tomatoes, a handful of fresh chopped Italian herbs, salt & pepper & a good drizzle of olive oil (meat lovers can add some slices of salami or omit if vegan/vegetarian).
Bake in oven 180 degrees for approximately half an hour until bread is crispy, giving a stir mid-way through to redistribute juices.
Serve with a yummy fresh side salad and pair with a glass of your favourite Margaret River wine.