Freshly baked bread is something we all take for granted, but what of the people behind the scenes who make it all possible? We had a chat with David Clarke, lifelong resident of the Adelaide Hills and owner/baker at Baker’s Delight Stirling, about his daily routine, getting to know the wildlife, and the big move from the old Stirling East Primary School.
What time does your day start?
I’m baking in the shop by 2.00am. On weekends because we’re busier I need to be baking at 1.00am. Luckily I only live 5 minutes away.
What is different about Stirling at that time of day?
I really enjoy the peace and quiet. For me it’s a beautiful time to work. The only occasional downside is when we lose power during a storm. That really throws a spanner in the works!
Ever seen anything weird?
All the local wildlife seems to come out at night, so I’ve seen kangaroos on the roundabout, emus, deer and even a sheep in the main street. Of course the koalas and possums are more active then too. I’ve also seen snow and even a minor earthquake that everyone else would have slept through.
What do you do with leftover bread?
We have a roster of charities including Meals on Wheels and the Hutt Street Centre that collect all our leftovers on a nightly basis. Products with custard and meat go to a local chicken and goat farmer as stock feed, and apparently result in very happy goats.
What’s your most popular product?
Our white high fibre low GI loaf.
Why can’t we have Hot Cross Buns all year?
I am asked this question on a regular basis. Obviously it’s associated with Easter, plus we don’t want to overdo a good thing! As it is we must sell well over 50,000 hot cross buns every year. The rest of the year we have our fruit buns which are also very popular.
Do you ever bake anything at home?
I don’t really have a need to bake, but I do all the cooking at home.
Where do you live?
Aldgate. My wife Belinda and I are both born and bred in the Adelaide Hills. My son now lives in the house I grew up in as a kid, and I built a house next door. I have ancestors in the Upper Sturt Cemetery. They were crew who jumped ship at Port Adelaide many moons ago and made a life for themselves in the hills. We go back a long way.
What else do you do in the community?
I play table tennis for Aldgate Table Tennis Club. We try to support lots of community events but especially the Heathfield High School volleyball program. Both my wife and I went to Heathfield High School, and my old PE teacher, David Eldridge, was still there when I took on the bakery. It seemed like a good way to give back and we’ve been involved ever since. Not that I play volleyball mind you!
What did you do before you became a baker?
I started as a bank teller right here in Stirling back in the day when all the records were handwritten. Not that I was particularly good at it. I remember being offered a video once as a performance incentive. I never did get the video! I was then offered a scholarship with ETSA and during this time became a qualified accountant. I’ve done lots of different things since but ended up as the accountant for Baker’s Delight flying all over Australia and New Zealand, before I decided to have my own shop. The funny thing is I now outsource all my accounting!
What’s your favourite product?
I’m a sweet tooth so something with custard in it, but I try to take home the cape seed and grain products as they’re much healthier of course.
How has Stirling changed over the years?
I guess it’s gradually become busier and more modernised. We had such a free-range lifestyle growing up here as kids, exploring paddocks and scrub, and just coming home in time for dinner. I was just reminiscing the other day with Raelee at Westpac about how we started at the old Stirling East Primary School, and moved to the new school at the end of our first year. We must have been about 6 years old and we marched down Pepper Ave to the new school carrying all our gear including our school chair! They were happy times. Obviously I’ve flown around a bit with work, but I must say it is pretty nice living and working locally, especially in a place like Stirling!