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Raising The Bar On Bread

25/01/2022

‘Bread is all about culture,’ says Francois Zietsman, owner of the Bread Bar at Makers Landing at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

It’s a small retail space with a casual, relaxed feel and an air of a contemporary artisanal baking studio with its custom-built wooden bread display stands, stainless steel ovens, trays and mixing machines in the background. But Francois is clear about the true origin of the bread business he created in 2019.

It was his grandmother who taught him the basics of bread-baking; her daily devotion to the task of baking bread and cooking for the family made a deep impression on him.  Thus began his love affair with the kitchen that has taken him from working in restaurants in his hometown of East London, to first-class wine estates in the Cape, creating meals for luxury travellers on private yachts and even making it into the top eight in a season of Masterchef.

But in the end, he has returned to his first love, bread.

‘I love bread’s simplicity,’ he says. “With just flour, salt, yeast and water you can make a whole range of different breads – all made by hand.”

Bread offers the deeply sensory experience of something gorgeous to look at, smell, taste and touch, all of which brings people together around the table.

“Bread is about connecting and sharing – there’s nothing like breaking bread around a table,” he says.

Why do you love using Oryx Desert Salt in your bread?

‘It has such a full, round flavour that I use less salt in my breads – just 40g per kg.  I find sea salt and other commercial salts too intense,’ says Francois. ‘I can both see and feel the different in the texture and even the smell of the loaf – salt kills the yeast in the alchemical process, but with Oryx Desert salt, I can mix it in the starter and it still allows for excellent fermentation.’

Some valuable insights for all those home bread-bakers whose expertise and creativity has grown exponentially during lockdown in the last 20 months.

Francois uses a natural locally-grown flour made by BIO-WHEAT™ which is slowly stone ground, retaining the nutritional vitamins, wheat germ and fibre. It’s grown in Caledon using biological farming methods.  Another major local supplier, Lowerland organic farm, grows unique varieties of non-hybridised wheat and rye with a focus on natural inputs and use no pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. 

Oryx Desert Salt is also an unprocessed wholefood which retains all its nutritional value in the form of micro-nutrients and minerals so it’s not surprising that there’s a natural kinship between salt and wheat.

Francois makes traditional sour dough, milk bread, brioche, braai broodjies, cinnamon rolls… and much more. What is his favourite of the moment?

It’s back to his grandmother again and the idea that culture is baked right into the bread we share at the table.  Mosbolletijes. The bread dough is rolled into balls and tightly packed into the baking tray so that it rises in a series of segments that once baked, make it easy to pull into individual pieces.   This soft aromatic loaf is traditionally made from grape must and flavoured with aniseed which gives the bread its delicate signature liquorice-like flavour.

For those of you keen on baking your own bread, look for the iconic Oryx Desert Salt horns in premium Woolworths stores, Cape Union Mart, selected Pick ‘n Pay stores, Dischem and Spar as well as most health shops and deli’s countrywide.

Otherwise, you’ll be more than satisfied and delighted with the Bread Bar’s offerings. Find Francois at Makers Landing, a new V&A food community, where local producers of food and beverages of all kinds can operate from a retail space, form connections, learn, share and be supported in their business journey.

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