Penny Olive learnt the craft of sourdough baking from Les Bartlett at the Crystal Waters Bakery in the Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in South East Queensland.
Penny undertook a traditional apprenticeship with Les, gaining experience in hand mixing dough, shaping loaves, and of course the benefits of prolonged fermentation and baking in a wood fired oven.
Returning to Victoria, Penny baked sourdough bread alongside Thomas and Gabi Moritz at Boonderoo Farm in the King Valley, stone milling grain and splitting wood for use in an Alan Scott wood fired oven.
Penny then ventured to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, baking with Pip Hayes at the iconic Wye River General Store. Here she built on her growing knowledge, particularly in the area of French style pastries and cakes.
During this time, Penny developed her vision for an organic sourdough café, leading her to transform a bike shed/cafe on the Warburton Trail into Mt Evelyn’s first artisan bakery and organic café. Penny Olive Sourdough Café quickly became a favourite destination for locals and tourists alike.
Penny credits her primary motivation to her mentor and friend Les Bartlett, who continues to bake in Crystal Waters. In 2015, a year after becoming a mother, Penny sold her beloved café to focus her energy on raising her daughter.
With her partner Andrew Hanson, a sourdough baker and pizza maker, Penny has once again converted a shed into a cosy sourdough bakery, this time at their property in The Patch, Victoria. Penny and Andrew continue to make bread the old fashioned way, also running baking and wood fired pizza classes to spread their extensive knowledge and passion to others.