Bread is the star but there’s a whole lot more to learn from chef Michael James at Tivoli Road. Together with his wife and business partner, Pippa James, he’s pulled together 80-plus recipes covering some of Tivoli Road Bakery’s best loved creations in their new book, The Tivoli Road Baker.
Michael and Pippa weren’t short on ideas when they embarked on what he describes as “probably the hardest thing we’ve done in our professional careers”. It was deciding what to keep that was tricky.
“We had about three books worth of recipes that we had to whittle down. We wanted to include a bit of everything we do, and provide a range of recipes for beginners as well as more challenging things for more advanced or professional cooks.” You’ll find sweet and savoury treats that Melburnians cross town for: pork and fennel sausage rolls, doughnuts, palmiers, tarts, exquisite canelés and sandwiches. Michael’s British roots make an appearance too, in recipes for traditional Cornish pasties, saffron buns and Eccles cake.
The aim was to inspire readers to make nourishing real bread at home and give them the confidence to adapt it to suit their own tastes. Tivoli favourites like the spelt and honey loaf, and the wholegrain rye and buttermilk loaf, sit alongside all the basics a home-baker needs to know. Micheal reveals the secret to keeping your sourdough starter alive – “Don’t give up! Accept ‘failures’ as part of the learning process.” And the essentials to really good bread – “The best thing a baker can do is use fresh, local flour, preferably stone milled.”
You’ll also see some of the Tivoli process, from farmer to table, with the inside story on where Michael sources all his ingredients and meet his suppliers. Native ingredients are also given a spotlight as Michael explores how to use flavours like lemon myrtle and wattle seed in modern baking.
The Tivoli Road Baker is released on November 1st and published in Melbourne by Hardie Grant. Pick up a copy at all good bookstores or online.