For the Love of the Loaf
A passion for bread is earning a quaint, French inspired bakery in Windhoek a name for itself along with a growing fan base. Attention to detail and bread true to the origins of bread making is what you’ll find at Le Pain Bakery in Windhoek. 99FM’s MYD Smart sat down with the name behind Le Pain Bakery, Stephaan Coetzee, to talk about the rewards of following your dreams.
“I dreamt since I was five years old of owning my own bakery on the corner of a street in Paris. I always had a love for pastries and bread.” It was when world renowned Australian Chef, Markus Farbinger, crossed paths with Stephaan that he knew that this was what he wanted to do. “It was then when I knew that it was bread. Bread is part of life; it’s a living organism. Everyday when you bake bread it’s something you start and something you finish. You see how it grows; how it bakes; you see how it changes and then you see the end product go out the door.” Says Stephaan.
Le Pain (which in French means The Bread) Bakery opened its doors just over a year ago. “It’s been great.” Says Stephaan who explains, “It was a bit slow in the beginning to teach people what bread is supposed to be. Especially when people don’t understand that bread has certain textures. We had to ask them to think back to the bread their grandmas and mothers used to make. People in Windhoek have forgotten what good bread is like. Which is really sad because Windhoek used to be known for its bread. But most supermarkets use pre-mix these days, it’s about pushing out numbers. What we are trying to do is go back to our roots. To what bread should be and taste like.”
Stephaan explains that the perfect bread is made in the mixing and then by enough proofing (which is the time you give the bread to rest and rise before baking). Proofing can take a few hours and after that the bread is gently shaped to keep some of the air in the bread and then it’s baked. “Making bread is like an art. In summer you add ice to water to keep the dough cool and in the winter you have to add water, or else the dough does not react. It’s a slow process to find that perfect balance of texture.”
Passion that is evident, Stephaan says, “Passion is a wonderful energiser. We often hear to follow our passion and do what we love, but it’s not that easy. It’s also not only one person that can direct you towards your passion. It started for me within my family, my mother was a baker and she is a very good cook as well. Then meeting Markus inspired me as well. It’s not just a job; it’s a very special breed of people who are chefs because we have a lot of passion for what we do. But my advice is, if you get the chance then grab that opportunity and follow your dreams.”
Passing his knowledge on is something important to Stephaan as he proudly shares how his employees have grown in their skills. Amon Simon, a bread maker at Le Pain Bakery is one such example, “When Amon joined, he was actually a cook and not a baker. When he started learning about bread making we saw that he was never meant to be a cook, but rather a bread maker. He understands dough so well.”
“I don’t like to train people to stay here forever, I try to train people so that they are equipped and ready. When an opportunity presents itself for them to go on and start their own businesses they can.” Says Stephaan
This little bakery is rising with care, like the bread it produces, to ensure quality is paramount. Stephaan explains that while there are big plans for expansion, for now it’s all about making sure the bread is perfect every time.
Le Pain Bakery is situated at the Puma Service Station in Eros, Windhoek. Find them on Facebook by clicking here