By Freya Ensbey. Photography by Bonnie Savage.
"Michael James is one of the greatest
bakers of his generation.” ~ Ben Shewry,
Anyone who has been to visit the famous
Tivoli Road Bakery in South Yarra, Melbourne would agree that its humble
exterior does not give off "one of Australia’s most renowned and celebrated
bakery” vibes. However, as the alluring aroma of freshly baked sourdough and
burnt butter croissants fill the surrounding streets, you are drawn in, to
follow the drones of locals and tourists alike indoors, to be a part of the
busy workshop where craftsmanship meets passion, creating some of the most
Husband and wife owners, Michael and Pippa
James, met whilst working at a restaurant in London. Michael was a Chef,
working in all aspects of the kitchen, taking a liking especially to the pastry
section, which spurred his fascination with different types of breads and
pastry products and steering his career to high end Michelin starred kitchens,
pastry shops and boutique bakeries, gifting him a wealth of knowledge and
experience in this field. Pippa continued to manage restaurants in London,
before the pair made the move to work in Sydney, then Melbourne, before eventually
buying the bakery and settling down.
"What we do isn’t magic, it’s the result of
excellent ingredients, years of trial and error, and dedication to an ancient
craft,” Michael states in the introduction of their book.
With well thought out chapters providing
recipes for everything from growing your own sourdough starter, through to
intricate tarts, pastries and even pickles, jams and chutneys, The Tivoli Road
Baker will be one of those rare, cherished family cook books the grandkids will
eventually be passed.
Begin your baking journey at home with a
loaf of fruit sourdough. Michael explains that when they first opened the bakery, their
customers were requesting ‘a fruit loaf with lots of fruit,’ and that’s exactly
what he created for them. The fruit for this recipe is soaked in red wine to
begin with, which gives it a punchy flavour and soft, gooey texture. Although
it’s best eaten fresh with a generous spread of butter, this loaf will also
keep for days and is equally delicious toasted.
On page 243, Michael reminisces about his
grandmother’s scones. Being Cornish, his ‘gran’ would always serve them with the
jam spread on first, followed by a dollop of cream, the "proper British way.”
Whichever way you decide to serve his sultana, buttermilk and lemon zest scones, Michael only has one rule; that the cream
and jam be applied lavishly!
Once you have mastered Michael’s crusty
loaf of multigrain,
turn to page 268 for the perfect accompaniment of bread
and butter pickles. Story has it that during the depression, cucumber
farmers in Illinois survived by making these pickled concoctions and bartering
them for staples such as bread and butter. Michael’s favourite way to enjoy
this recipe is added on sandwiches with pastrami and gruyere cheese for a modern
variation of the Reuben sandwich.
Along with the 80 plus recipes included in
this book, Michael shares the secrets of some of Tivoli Road’s best-loved
creations, giving nod to his British heritage and unveiling his love of native
Australian flora and produce. The Tivoli Road Baker is a must have addition to
any home baker’s library and is available for
purchase online here.