GrainGrowers’ bakery consultant Morten Staer has baked in some unusual places. Nonetheless, it was the chance to work his craft on the back of a semi-trailer in a wheat field recently that has won him notoriety.
Morten took part in a successful Guinness World Record attempt to bake the fastest bakers’ dozen of bread loaves in Parkes, New South Wales, in January and says it was no easy feat.
“We had to harvest the wheat, mill it, make the dough and bake it in less than 18 minutes,” Morten said.
“I spent several days doing practise runs in the GrainGrowers’ test bakery at GrainGrowers’ head quarters in North Ryde. The farmer who organised the whole event, Neil Unger sent me test samples of the wheat, which he’d harvested and milled. I knew there wouldn’t be much fermentation time, so I experimented with several variations of Irish soda bread.
“When I arrived in Parkes we did another test run. The wheat was milled in a pin mill Neil uses to mix feed for his pigs. He’d put an old welding table on the back of the semi for me to process the dough and he’d constructed a pizza oven on the back of the truck too.”
The effort paid off. On the day, Morten and Neil led the team which pulled off the feat in a record time of 16 minutes and 30 seconds.
“What really made the difference was the mixer W&P Reedy supplied for the attempt. It helped me to get the dough mixed really fast. I also found prolonged pre-heating of the oven got a much faster result – but I’m pretty sure the 42°C heat we were working in on the day helped heat the oven nice and fast,” Morten said.
“It was an amazing experience, to be part of something that brought every step of the production process into one place. I got to see the raw material growing in the paddock and then a very short time later see people eat and enjoy the bread. It was really satisfying for me as a baker.”
There were a number of challenges on the day. Neil had to keep the wheat in the paddock for almost six weeks after he harvested the rest of the crop. Too much rain or sun and the whole venture could have been sunk. Then the night before the record attempt a large bushfire broke out not far from the site where the record attempt would take place.
“Neil’s son ploughed a fire break around the site the night before. If he hadn’t done that we might not have been able to go ahead with attempt. Luckily the fire didn’t get too close,” Morten said.
Neil had been planning the event for 12 months and all money raised from the event went to local charity Currajong disability services.
“It was all the more satisfying because we were helping out a charity. I think Neil did an amazing job to pull off a dream he’s had for more than ten years,” Morten said.
I’d like to sincerely thank Manildra Group and MSM Milling for the support they gave us on the day.