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Photo by Phil Agnew

Phil Agnew is a 35-year-old home baker from the mostly sunny city of Brisbane, Australia. He works as a graphic designer but spends his bus commutes planning recipes for his next bake. Every Saturday, he then bakes a new batch of naturally leavened bread made with his home milled flour to share with family and friends.

Phil posts his recipes and beautiful bread photography on a blog he publishes at the artisan baker community, The Fresh Loaf.

This is a free preview of an article published in BREAD Magazine Issue 1.

Buy the issue to read the full article!

In this interview, Phil tells his bread story and shares some of his thoughts on what makes bread special.

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Jarkko: Can you tell a bit about your background? How did you get excited about baking bread?

Phil: I grew up in a small country town. I am not a city kid even though I live in one now. My parents are grounded people, so we were raised with awareness about the value and nutrition of good food.

Photo by Phil Agnew

I have a distinct memory of my father baking bread rolls in my grandparents’ bright yellow kitchen. He had a damp cloth sitting over rising bread rolls, and I remember him talking about yeast and keeping the dough warm and out of drafts. It’s a special memory for me.

I became excited about baking my own bread when I read an article on Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread. Up until this point I had made some simple yeasted breads and pizza dough but without much understanding of what I was doing. I was just following steps in a recipe.

The no-knead process was something new and exciting for me. The first attempt tasted fantastic and so did the second, apart from giving myself really nasty burns when picking up a scalding hot pot. A mistake I have never made since.

About this time, a small boulangerie had opened down the road that sold “real” sourdough breads. This was something completely unknown to me. So it all was kind of happening at the same time. I was experimenting with no-knead breads at home making all kinds of concoctions plus buying and eating quality sourdoughs.

Then one day, when passing through a book shop, I decided to browse the food section for a book on bread baking and found Richard Bertinet’s book Crust. It all changed from that moment on. I bought it, raced home and poured over it before spending the next week preparing my first natural levain (sourdough). I haven’t stopped baking and learning since.

I enjoy so many aspects of baking bread. It is a tactile process which utilizes all of my senses. There is an ongoing history and tradition encompassing endless skills and processes to understand. It brings an appreciation and gratitude to the food we eat, but most of all, it is a way of sharing and bringing together family and friends.

This is a free preview of an article published in BREAD Magazine Issue 1.

Buy the issue to read the full article!

Issue #23 now availabe!