Artisan bread is having a moment in Perth. Bakeries such as North Street Store, Mary Street Bakery, Blake Street Merchant and The Woodfired Baker have gained such a following they often struggle to meet demand. Now, Miller & Baker joins their ranks, opening on Lake Street in December. But this one’s a little different – it’s one of the few Australian bakeries milling its own flour.

“When you buy coffee, it tells you on the bag what altitude it was grown at, where it’s from and what species it is,” says owner Mark Taylor. “Why don’t they do that for wheat?”

The former environmental scientist was introduced to the joys of freshly milled, locally sourced flour during a four-year stint in Denmark.

“We lived down the road from a cafe-bakery that was linked to Relae, one of the world’s top 50 restaurants, and of course the bread had to be the best,” says Taylor. “In Denmark they use so much freshly milled flour. Most of the bakeries have a mill or a good relationship with a farmer, so they get it direct and fresh. You get a bit spoilt when you have that bread every day.”

Inspired to know more, Taylor spent eight months visiting Danish bakeries to learn the trade – an experience he describes as “life changing”. He’s now determined to bring the quality and health benefits of freshly milled flour to Perth. Better flavour aside, the nutrients in wheat diminish with time and commercial processing. “When you start looking at the health benefits of freshly milled flour, there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t be doing this,” says Taylor.

The bakery’s closest counterparts are Sydney’s Staple Bread & Necessities and Adelaide’s Small World Bakery, which uses the same imported stone mill as Miller & Baker.

Taylor personally collects the grain from the wheat-belt town of Mollerin, some 300 kilometres north-east of Perth. It’s the product of regenerative farming, a system of farming and grazing practices that builds healthy, biologically diverse and mineral-rich soils. It also grows tastier wheat.

“We know the people growing our produce and that’s important, especially in WA. They’re so passionate but they haven’t been able to sell their wheat except to be blended in a bigger flour mill or to Asia for noodle wheat.”

Head baker is 20-year industry veteran Brendan Stone, who has spent time at New Norcia and Mary Street. Here, he’s turning out freshly baked loaves of sourdough, rye, ciabatta, baguettes and more. There are also pies, vegemite scrolls, sweet and savoury pastries (the ham and gruyere croissants are highly recommended), and generously filled sandwiches to tempt the lunch trade. Grab them to go or pull up a stool in the tiny but inviting cafe space, which features exposed brick, bench seating and a communal table in the centre, plus plenty of greenery.

Espresso coffee is by Five Senses and Offshoot, with guest roasters for filter. House-milled flour is available to buy in small quantities, and there are plans to produce and sell preserves, relishes and honey.

The opening was delayed due to issues with shipping the mill, and so the in-house flour will be blended with others in the early days of operation. Taylor is modest when talking about his bread, but his ambitions are high. And Perth bread-lovers have reason to be excited if the quality of early production is anything to go by.

“It’s just the early stages, we had to open and get it going,” explains Taylor. “I know a few people in high-end restaurants who have bakeries attached, and they don’t produce anything but the best. We’re nowhere near that, but that’s where I want to get to. I want to produce the healthiest and best bread in Perth.”

Miller & Baker
236 Lake Street, Perth
Hours:
Wed to Sun 6.30am–3pm

facebook.com/MillerandBaker

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on 31 January 2020. Menu items may have changed since publication.