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Baker places his focus on rising bread

Klemens Koester  pull some bread out of the oudoor, wood-fired stone oven on his East Kelowna farm.  - Sean Connor/Capital News
Klemens Koester pull some bread out of the oudoor, wood-fired stone oven on his East Kelowna farm.
— image credit: Sean Connor/Capital News

Klemens Koester starts his work day at midnight so you can have fresh bread delivered to your door in the morning.

It all began with a wood-fired stone oven he built on his East Kelowna farm to bake fresh breads and pizza for his family, but friends asked if he’d mind baking some for their family too—and it just grew from there.

Today, he makes a couple of hundred loaves at a time instead of a couple, but he still molds and shapes each loaf by hand, the old-fashioned way, because yeast bread is a living, breathing thing.

“I think I’m pretty good at consistency, but it still varies. Not every loaf looks the same every day,” he concedes.

There are no additives or preservatives in his breads and buns, and there’s no waste because each item he bakes has been pre-ordered by his customers from the website.

Bread on Wheels opened officially last October and so far, it’s just grown by word-of-mouth.

Koester is Swiss and took his trades training as a pastry chef at 16.

When he came to Kelowna he worked at The Delta Grand as well as at Specialty Bakery.

In 1999, he bought a five-hectare farm with just a house and dirt road on it in East Kelowna and then concentrated on raising sheep and chickens, until provincial regulations governing slaughtering changed, making it very difficult for small operators to continue in business.

He still raises laying hens and sheep, has a few horses, llamas, alpacas and ducks, as well as a couple of large dogs to discourage the cougars from going on another rampage.

But, his focus is now on rising bread.

“Everyone needs to eat bread,” he says with a grin. “And, it’s healthy bread.”

The 60 families who rely on his products being delivered weekly are delighted he’s decided to build a bakery.

It’s his own design, and largely built by himself.

He gets much satisfaction from building things, and restoring old pieces of equipment, cleaning them up and painting them so they look—and work— like new.

Cleanliness and order are very important to him, and he notes, timing and coordination are very important in the process of baking bread.

His new bakery is equipped with an indoor Italian deck oven where loaves are baked on a stone that imitates the wood-fired oven, but he still bakes some specialty loaves in the more labour-intensive wood-fired outside oven as well.

Most recently, he’s added some sweets to his eight types of breads, including an apple cake.

And, he has plans to add more, including feature products for special occasions, focaccia and olive breads, pretzels and perhaps pizza crusts.

“It was a big decision,” he says of the change to commercial from feeding a few families, but he’s confident it’s one he won’t regret making.

Just recently he hired a driver to take care of the deliveries, and if needed, he will hire a pastry chef and a baker to work with him.

From a single baking day a week, there are now three, and soon will be four. And, his products are now available on a special wooden bread rack at KLO Market, L&D Meats and Sunshine Market.

The delivery charge is only a dollar, and if your order adds up to more than $20, it’s free. Some people order it delivered to their office, where a few colleagues have orders as well.

But, Koester bakes more than simple breads.

A cluster of bun-sized grapes, adorned with grape leaves rendered in bread dough would make a dramatic centrepiece for a special event, and he loves the creativity involved in making such artistic pieces.

“It’s a special moment to see a product come out of the oven,” he comments with satisfaction.

For details: www.breadonwheels.ca

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

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