“I never saw myself opening my own bakery,” says Quentin Berthonneau, the owner of Prahran Market’s new patisserie-boulangerie Q le Baker. “But having grown up in France … we’re not that well equipped here in comparison.

“To me, good quality bread has a dark, caramelised crust with a moist and golden crumb inside that should melt in your mouth. If it’s chewy inside, the dough hasn’t fermented properly.”

From the age of 15, Berthonneau worked as a baker and pastry chef in France, before moving to Australia, where he shadowed then-Vue de Monde head baker Tim Beylie before working with the bakery section at South Melbourne’s Chez Dré.

Now 25 years old, Berthonneau owns Q le Baker with Marion David, a former Baker D. Chirico manager.

Their new store occupies a corner stretch of Prahran Market’s Market Square, with a fit-out by South Melbourne interior designer Adele Bates that features two windows with views into the baker’s bright kitchen.

“We wanted to express our philosophy … to be transparent and share every aspect of the business, from the ingredients to the preparation and baking in the four-deck Bongard oven,” says Berthonneau.

He sources his ingredients directly from farmers and millers, including organic stoneground flours such as rye, spelt and khorasan (also known as kamut) from Rolling Stone Mill and Laucke Flour Mills.

“The market attracts a crowd of conscious buyers who like to know where their food comes from and how it’s grown or made,” says Marion David.

“Soon we’ll be setting up workshops and selling our flours similarly to how some cafes now sell coffee beans,” Berthonneau adds. “We’d love to see a higher standard of bread across the whole city, so we’re happy to share.”

The focus here is on wholemeal flours and sourdoughs that use wild yeasts developed over time.

“Wholemeal flours are much healthier and easier for the body to digest than white flours,” says Berthonneau. “There’s much less wastage milling wholemeal flours, too.”

Berthonneau explains that wheat kernels comprise three parts: bran, endosperm and the germ.

White flours contain only endosperm – the germ and bran components go unused, along with the nutrients and vitamins they carry. Whole-wheat flour contains all three elements of the grain, making it a more nutritious and less wasteful option.

Alongside loaves such as rye and lemon; twisted brioche; and chocolate sourdough, you’ll find croissants, galette des rois, tarts and buttermilk buns.

Sandwiches and pies are filled with house-made ingredients such as goat’s cheese (the ginger beer used in the fruit loaf is similarly made from scratch on-site) and Berthonneau visits other vendors at the market for items such as meat – from Gary’s Meats – to fill his whole-wheat-pastry pies. The brownie recipe is Berthonneau’s own. Instead of nuts he uses millet for crunch, and sprinkles sea salt flakes on top.

“I love waking up really early to bake – when the whole city is quiet and you’re busy creating as the sun rises,” Berthonneau says. “When we get to hand over bread to our customers that’s still warm, it’s so special to see the excitement and joy that lights up their faces.

“It kills me that anyone would buy bread that isn’t freshly made. I really want people to realise how much better bread can be.”

Q le Baker
Prahan Market, Shop 709
163 Commercial Road, South Yarra
(03) 9973 3069

Hours:
Tue 7am–5pm
Thu to Sat 7am–5pm
Sun 10am–3pm

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