Alternative Loafstyle Long-time friends Laurie Whelan and Cheryl Martin have realized their dream of opening a distinctive bakery that would be known not only for its traditional sourdough loaves, delicious cakes, and ‘real’ food but also its funky and vibrant atmosphere where visitors can sit down and have a coffee and something fresh from the café.
Laurie and Cheryl tackled the feat of transforming a heritage-listed Beaurepaires building in Bendigo, country Victoria, into a haven for quality, wholesome food in 2009. In the past, locals would have had to go to Melbourne, two hours’ drive away, for authentic sourdough.
“Bendigo has heaps of foodie destinations but we’ve always felt it lacked a quality sourdough bakery, and we’ve had a really positive result,” Laurie said.
Everything that’s made at The Good Loaf is ‘real’ food. It’s made from scratch, with no pre-mixes and local ingredients where possible. Since opening, the sourdough has taken off massively, with the community relishing in the chance to snatch up a loaf that’s healthier and tastes exceptional.
The bakery is the pride and joy of The Good Loaf: Bendigo’s Alternative Loafstyle, where they produce a massive range of sourdough and semi-sourdough, as well as savoury pastries and cakes. Their only non-sourdough loaf is a gluten-free loaf, made every Wednesday.
They love their sourdough because they believe it’s a healthier, easier to digest bread that lowers the insulin response and is low GI. They’ve taken their passion to great heights, with an extensive range of sourdough on offer, including flavours such organic white indigo, olive, raisin and walnut, gourmet fruit, vine fruit and rosemary, wholemeal, seedy, wholegrain and honey, sultana and raisin and light rye.
Their range of semi sourdoughs includes corn, roasted pumpkin, focaccia, ciabatta and spelt, with their roast pumpkin semi-sourdough being their best seller.
As well as their signature sourdough, they have a range of other baked goodies including sweet and savoury muffins, cakes, date scones, breakfast frittatas, vegetable calzones, homemade sausage rolls and homemade pies, all made with no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours.
“We do focus on the healthy side of things so in terms of low fat, they’re not hugely refined products either, that’s different from a conventional baker,” Laurie says.
“We don’t make a vanilla slice and we don’t make what I would call quite sweet cakes, and I suppose they have their place but we basically have wholesome foods.
“Some people come into our bakery and don’t see anything that stands out but anyway, that’s just our range.
“But, things like our date scones are very popular, we can make a batch of those and they’ll be gone by mid-morning,” Laurie says.
Laurie adds that The Good Loaf’s Indian Love Cake is probably a signature to their business. It’s a recipe from India so it has a lot of spices like cardamom and nutmeg, as well as pistachios, raisins, and carrot.
In the café the menu is simple, healthy and of course based around what’s coming out of the oven in the bakery. They cater for a range of dietary requirements ensuring everyone is welcome. The café seats 20 with an outdoor cantilever roof structure to protect in rain or shine and provides plenty of space for prams, bike riders dog walkers.
The Good Loaf: Bendigo’s Alternative Loafstyle pride themselves on operating in a way that values people, a sense of community and the environment. Cheryl says in many ways, the building itself was the first recycling project.
“Many of the original features have been accentuated and all of the furniture is either recycled or second-hand, including the glass cabinet and shelves from Allen’s Lolly Factory,” she says.
They have a strict kitchen waste sorting and recycling policy, which, according to Cheryl, drives the staff a bit mad at times. But, it’s all worth it to reduce their footprint on the planet, ensuring as little as possible goes to waste. Scraps go to various places, including a piggery and the chooks at Laurie’s farm. It’s a cycle where the scraps provide feed for the chooks to produce eggs for the bakery and cafe. True to their community-focused ethos, leftover bread is donated to the Foodbank.
“I guess our philosophy is to make wise use of resources. That’s not only in terms of focussing on what you use and wastage, but to properly recycle and where you can, divert from landfill,” Laurie said.
They also support the environment on another level, by providing the only recharge point in Bendigo for Castelmaine’s Blade Electric Vehicles. Tesla has since caught on and installed a Tesla recharging point, which Laurie says is perfect for people who want to come for a weekend or day trip from Melbourne.
With a car recharging station, a bakery-café making wholesome, fresh and locally sourced food and knowing they’re actively trying to reduce their environmental footprint in the process, there’s lots of reasons to check out The Good Loaf: Bendigo’s Alternative Loafstyle.