Karl’s Bakehouse: The Monthly Sourdough Subscription Box You Need To Know About

Words: Katrina Rose Wind

Sourdough seems to have been the lockdown baking buzzword with lots of people interested in getting to know how to bake their own. What everyone quickly found out though, is that it is a skill that takes time to craft. Karl Tessendorf, of Karl’s Bakehouse, has been honing his sourdough baking for a while and was all set to launch classes to help teach others to do the same when the world was hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Having to postpone the courses at his home for the time being, he has gone ahead with his next project – a subscription-based sourdough box. Freshly baked sourdough delivered to your door? Sounds dreamy. Get to know more about this and how you can sign up below.

Karl’s Bakehouse is a monthly subscription box, dare I say it’s the first of its kind in SA, can you tell us more about the concept?

Ha, thanks, yeah I am not sure if it’s the first but it might be. The idea comes from the sourdough cottage bakery scene in America. It is a relatively new industry that has popped up over the last few years. Essentially home bakers taking their hobby to the next level and selling from their homes.

After listening to The Sourdough Podcast, which I highly recommend, and hearing about all of the home bakers taking the leap, I figured, if I am ever going to do it now is the time. The way it works is you sign up for a 4-week bread block and I deliver a loaf of sourdough to you every Tuesday. Each loaf comes with a little treat and I’ll do my best to educate subscribers about the benefits of sourdough along the journey.

Image: Marla Burger Photography for Fermented.co.za

What was the inspiration behind Karl’s Bakehouse?

Originally, I was setting myself up to teach sourdough classes at my home when Covid-19 hit and put an immediate stop to that. It was quite a disappointment, as I had my first one booked in collaboration with Murray from fermented.co.za. The crisis has forced a lot of small businesses to have to rethink how they operate and so I had to put the home-based classes on hold and push forward with the next idea – a fresh bread delivery service. Hopefully, the classes idea can restart when lockdown restrictions lift.

How did your love for making sourdough come about?

I’ve always loved bread. One of my best food memories as a kid was making my own toast on the braai after my dad had finished cooking. Back then we ate tons of government loaf because that was pretty much all there was available. As you get older, your tastes change with experience and sourdough just has so much flavour and character that it’s hard not to fall in love with it.

If I’m honest, when I started baking bread I did everything I could to replicate the sourdough flavour without having to actually make sourdough. The process just seemed so long and complicated but eventually, I just committed myself to learning it and the rest is history. Once you’ve had really good bread it’s hard to go back.

During lockdown baking went through the roof in popularity, specifically with sourdough, why do you think that is?

It takes a long time to make good sourdough – up to three days. These days with the lockdown it seems everyone has a little more time on their hands so sourdough just exploded. Also, there are few things as satisfying as baking your own bread.

That feeling when you open the oven and see an awesome loaf of bread never gets old.

The thing with sourdough is that once you are in, you are in. It’s so addictive but the learning curve is steep so if you like a challenge then it’s very enticing.

Apart from making sourdough, do you have the same passion for baking other types of bread?

Yeah, I just love bread in general. I make sourdough loaves mostly but I love making focaccia, pretzels rolls, roosterkoeks, anything really. I can eat bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

karl's bakehouse

Image: Marla Burger Photography for Fermented.co.za

Do you mind sharing your experience of when you realised that you and sourdough “Connected”?

When I first started out I made a lot of bad loaves and it’s very discouraging. A lot of people give up when this happens but if you push through and refine your technique you start ending up with better and better bread. I think when things clicked for me was when I started understanding my starter culture and what it needed from me in order to produce good bread. Having a starter is like having a dog. If you feed it twice a day and are good to it then it will be good to you.

What makes sourdough different?

That’s a big question and there are lots of people who are way more qualified to answer it but I will do my best. Real bread is a simple thing. It’s flour, water, salt and starter culture which is just a mix of flour and water that houses a spontaneous fermentation of wild yeast and bacteria. That’s all you need but if you look at a packet of supermarket bread, you’re likely to find 25 ingredients in a loaf.

Sourdough is a return to the way things used to be made before food got commercialised, streamlined and made as quickly and cheaply as possible.

The microbes in the starter predigest the flour which releases its nutrients and allows our bodies to absorb them. It also lowers the glycemic index of the bread which reduces sugar spikes and it has natural preservatives, which extends the shelf life of the bread. Overall it’s just better in every way than commercially yeasted bread.

How do people subscribe to Karl’s Bakehouse Sourdough Box?

Follow me on Instagram @KarlsBakehouse for updates on bread blocks and how many spots are available, or pop me an email to enquire.

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