Real bread made with time… and love.

When Renee Neale discovered the word ‘reverence’ meant ‘to be loved and adored’, she knew it was the perfect name for her beloved sourdough brand.

In the fine daily drift of flour at Wholegrain Milling, Renee Neale learnt to love the purity of the product. She did not, however, love the bread that was commercially available to her family – a far call from the sustainable, organic flour made at the mill.

She began to bake her own.

“When I travelled around for Wholegrain Milling, the bakers would give me snippets and tips about how to bake good bread,” Renee says.

“Then Sydney baker Cesare Salemi came and baked sourdough in our home with me. That was when I knew that this was what I really loved.”

The well-known baker gave Renee a gift he said was like giving away one of his children – a starter. Even those among us who know little about baking sourdough bread know that a starter is precious. It is the kernel of a baking business.

Renee also made her own starters and worked hard to learn the craft, making – she says – many mistakes along the way.

“It takes time to make and bake a loaf of sourdough,” she says. “Sometimes it is 72 hours from the time it is made to when it is baked. The shortest time would be 48 hours.”

The benefit of the time is that it breaks down the gluten and other proteins to make the bread more easily digestible and healthier. Renee worked on perfecting the basic sourdough loaf for about 12 months, learning to factor in the many challenges of working with natural ingredients, including the impact of the different seasons on the process.

Before she began her business, she was listening to a song and was struck by the word ‘reverence’. She looked it up to find that it meant to be loved and adored. That, Renee thought, was the perfect word for her affinity for sourdough.

A year later, she launched Reverence Sourdough. In the four years since then, Reverence and Renee have made a name for themselves for supplying artisan sourdough, each loaf handmade with care. Reverence Sourdough continues its close working relationship with Wholegrain Milling and supplies Bitter Suite in Gunnedah, Yield Cafe in Narrabri, the Plains Pantry in Willow Tree and Miss Ju Ju in Tamworth, as well as being an important part of the Gunnedah Grounds.

The Reverence range now includes a large variety of loaves as well as baguettes, brioches, artisan pizza and a variety of sweet treats.

Along with her three children and other interests, it keeps Renee busy, with the baking day starting at 2.30-3.00am so the bread is perfect for customers for breakfast or morning tea.

“I love and adore this job,” she says. “It’s part of me. I believe you have to give things time and love, and that is exactly what this bread needs. There is no fast lane in sourdough.”

{words & photography: Marie Low - Two Cats Creative}