Where: 18 Milton Street, Bell Park
When: Mon – Fri 7am to late, Sat 7am to 1pm, Sun 12 noon to late
Phone: 5272 1727
There are some smells in the world that have the power to get our dopamine levels soaring, sometimes it only takes one little sniff! Without doubt there is one universal smell that gets hearts racing (and mouths drooling) and that is the lovely scent of a good old bakery! Oh! Hello Geelong adores all things bakery (the smell being just one), golly where to start this list? We love breads, biscuits, scones, cakes, slices, pastries, flans, tarts (did we mention bread?). So of course we’ve done the rounds when it comes to local G-town bakeries and without doubt our favourite is the beautiful La Madre Bakery nestled in the heart of the quiet lil’ Geelong suburb of Bell Park. Seriously, if you haven’t discovered the world of La Madre yet (either by going to the shop or sampling some of their delicious goods at local cafes) then please make sure you do! The beautiful Anna Spurling (one half of the La Madre story), has very kindly shared the wonderful world of La Madre with us, enjoy! Thanks Anna!
// Photography © Cricket Photographic Studio //
Can you tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and how you came to take on La Madre Bakery?
My husband Tez and I both worked for a multinational sports and event management agency in London, which was an exciting time for us both. However, when we got pregnant with our first child, life in London lost its shine so we trekked back to Geelong where my family is based. Tez left his family and friends in the UK to start up life Down Under so he either really loved me or loved Australia! It is a cliché but we have always been passionate about food and knew we wanted to run our own business. We went searching and kept dismissing La Madre because we were terrified about the early starts. Once we learnt about the unique baking process and timings, we were sold.
What bakery favourites we can find at La Madre Bakery? What about if you’re craving something a little different?
The Seeded Sourdough is definitely our most popular loaf and the Olive Sourdough is spectacular. We have customers who are in the know lining up at Ciabatta O’Clock for the ciabatta rolls and focaccia breads that are hot out of the oven. It is a well-disciplined person who can resist tearing at a Rosemary Focaccia in the car on the way home! Our most beautiful loaf, in my opinion, is the Rye Sourdough with Currants and Walnuts. It is excellent with cheese and beautiful toasted with real butter.
Everyone has a sweet tooth, what sweet treats are on offer at La Madre?
To satisfy the most ardent chocolate craving head straight to a double chocolate lamington. We made these for Australia Day a couple of years ago and haven’t been able to remove them off our portfolio! For an English treat, try a Garibaldi which is affectionately known as a squashed fly biscuit – two layers of pastry with a goey raisin and fig centre. At the moment, we’re going a bit old school with a revival of cakes you ate with your Nanna – think carrot, jaffa marble, hummingbird, apple tea. Perhaps lemon slice and hedgehog need to come back too?
What sets La Madre apart from other bakeries?
The purity of our product sets us apart. Every single item is made by hand with love and attention by our highly skilled baking team. Our bread is made from our sourdough culture + flour + sea salt + water. That’s it. We care for our culture (The Mother, hence La Madre) like a baby. She is fed every single day. We don’t add any nasties in anywhere – there are no preservatives, additives, numbers or chemicals and we focus on buying organic, biodynamic or chemical free ingredients.
Where can we find La Madre products (outside of La Madre)?
In Geelong, you’ll find our retail loaves at V&R Fruit & Vegetable Market, Geelong Fresh Foods, Organic Larder and Darriwill Farm and in Melbourne at David Jones Food Hall, Thomas Dux Grocers and Leo’s Supermarkets. We also supply some great providores down the Bellarine and Surf Coast. If you want to eat La Madre with your latte then head on into Fuel Coffee + Food, Go Food or A Spot For Joe to name a few.
La Madre has reached some amazing heights in relation to the environment and sustainability; can you share some of your achievements with us?
Our bakehouse in Milton Street is a certified Low CO² operation, which means that all the carbon emissions that are produced onsite are offset with an investment in renewable energy. We also produced the first carbon neutral Hot Cross Bun in Australia. We’re tremendously proud of these achievements but they are still only small steps in a long journey.
For the past five years, we’ve worked hard to reduce our carbon footprint as low as possible given that we use huge electric ovens and distribute all over Victoria. We use bamboo labels on our breads with a PET backing paper for the stickers, heat from our ovens is shifted to the office and shop during the cooler months, rainwater tanks service our toilets and laundry and our lighting is energy efficient. We are also working towards reducing our waste by 50%.
I recently completed a Diploma of Sustainability at The Gordon. It was a great process for me as it gave me confidence to decipher some of the green jargon that is bandied about. Now I can nod and smile more knowingly!
So Anna we’re dying to know, what’s it really like to be the baker’s wife?
Ha, it is fabulous really! Tez works really long hours as the business is virtually 24-7 but on the weekends he still bakes at home. Lately he’s been mucking around with soda bread, ANZAC biscuits and pikelets. The only problem is that I have to clean up! Oh, and eat it of course.
What’s life like for Anna and Tez away from La Madre?
Pretty busy! We have many small people in our house – Mia (7), Evie (5), Lexi (3) and Fred (15 months) – so most of our life away from La Madre is centred on them. Life consists of birthday parties, negotiating on weather appropriate clothing, picking up toys, stepping on Lego, nap times, laundry and a bit of rest time in between a lot of cooking. We try and spend one day on the weekend running errands and one day on a family outing. It could be as simple as taking scooters down to the Waterfront and getting some fresh air.
Where is your favourite place to eat in Geelong?
Only one place? Oh, that is hard! So I am going to say that Winter’s has it going on for fabulous casual dining – brunch, a birthday catch up or for an excellent coffee. The service is outstanding and it oozes a cool niceness.
What is Geelong’s best-kept secret?
I’m going out on a limb here and saying Bell Park! Its multicultural eccentricity makes it a fascinating suburb featuring authentic orthodox churches replete with gold domes, backyard gardens that would put Jamie Durie to shame, a multilingual chatterbox population, a lovely bakery (!) and a spectacularly good continental butcher called Siketa’s in Hughes Street!
What do you love about living in Geelong?
G-Town offers an eclectic blend of city slick, country charm and surfer chic. With easy access to Melbourne and one of the world’s best coastlines down the Great Ocean Road it is hard not to be swayed by its location. It is not yet the prettiest city but beneath the exterior is a vibrant community that is constantly developing and one which often surprises me.
// Photography © Cricket Photographic Studio //
Thanks Anna and La Madre!
Love Penny + Laura