Tonatiuh exchanged his life of working around music for one now focused on bread. With Tommy and Crick’s support (Papabubble, Federal), he opened his bakery and has one of the few firewood ovens in the city. Cloudstreet Bakery makes delicious organic breads, with a distinctive smoked aroma.
Please tell us about your background
I arrived in Barcelona 10 years ago to study medieval music. When I finished my studies, I needed a break from music and I started making bread. I read an article by Ibán Yarza where he described how to make sourdough bread. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful transformation that takes place with the flour and water. I was completely hooked and started making bread every day.
By the way, that sourdough is the same one we use today in Cloudstreet!
How did this hobby turn into a profession?
It was a natural process. I baked bread for my friends and they suggested that I should become a professional baker. I was lucky to work at Barcelona Reykjavik for a year, which familiarized me with the industry. Then I decided I wanted to start my own project. I partnered with Tommy and Crick, two of my Australian friends who created projects such as Papabubble or Federal Café. After a year of looking for a space we found this one. When I saw the oven I immediately fell in love with it.
“Many old ladies tell us that our bread reminds them of what they used to eat in their towns when they were young.”
Your bakery has been in business for many years. Would you like to share some stories with us?
I always remember when a woman in her 50s came into the shop and started crying. She explained us that she’d been coming to this bakery since she was a child, and that she still remembered when food was rationed after the war. It’s a place with a long history and that’s beautiful. Francisco, the previous baker, was born in the room upstairs and always lived there. He retired two years ago.
How does a firewood oven affect the bread making process?
Working with firewood is very hard. You need to unload heavy quantities of firewood, load the oven and burn the firewood. On top of that it generates a lot of dirt. It’s been very hard to find firewood that adjusts to our oven features. We’ve changed our supplier 4 times in the last year! In return, we get bread with a very special flavor. The oven provides a smoked aroma that makes our bread very unique. Many old ladies tell us that our bread reminds them of what they used to eat in their towns when they were young.
What else makes your bread special?
We have two different product lines: the whole grain sourdough and the white bread. We only buy organic stoneground flours, which retain vitamins and carotenes that are responsible for the flavor. The flours you can find at a supermarket in Spain are refined and have many additives.
For the whole grain breads we follow an old German recipe. We feed our sourdough with organic whole grain rye. Also, our breads carry more sourdough than usual. That keeps them fresh for a longer time.
Which is your favorite bread?
I love rye bread, especially toasted with butter. I enjoy its many nuances. Every day the flavors change and aromas settle. Besides, it is very easy to make. Ibán calls it the “automatic rye” in his book. It’s low in gluten and doesn’t need to be kneaded. You just need to mix the ingredients, place them in a mold and forget about it!
Do you have a specific philosophy about food?
I am very eclectic. Although I studied medieval music I listen to all genres. The same thing happens with food. I have friends that are a bit radical and only eat seasonal and organic. I think it’s right to pay attention to where things come from but you shouldn’t limit yourself. We are part of a global society. An avocado or papaya may be organic but will never grow here. In general, I try to eat local but if I feel like an avocado, of course I’ll eat it!
What have you learned from this craft?
Discipline is one of the most important things I’ve learned. With bread there aren´t any shortcuts. For example, if you don’t control the temperature or you don’t feed your sourdough at the right time, then you won’t make great bread. I’m also working on learning to improvise. Our craft requires little adjustments based on observation. You can have a perfect plan but you need to adjust it since we work with living microorganisms, which are therefore unpredictable.
Do you see a relationship between bread and music?
Actually both are medieval professions. In Medieval times, a musician was considered more an artisan than an artist. I find this similarity: I studied medieval music and we make sourdough as it was made 600 years ago.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love to feed and mix the sourdough. The rye aroma mixed with the water smells amazing and reminds me of when I started. I also love to shape the bread. Of course, I also love to bake it. Sometimes I ask myself what’s my favorite moment and I realized that enjoy most of the process. However, I do have a horrible time loading the oven with firewood. You get very hot and if the firewood isn’t dry it’s a catastrophe! (laughs)
What’s your favorite way to entertain?
I love trying new places to eat. For example, yesterday we tried La Esquinica, a well-known restaurant in Fabra i Puig.
Would you please recommend to us your 3 favorite restaurants in the city?
I love Pakta, la Taberna del Clinic and Tropicalísima.
When we visited Cloudstreet we also met with Ruben, the master baker. Ruben makes delicious cakes and we asked him to share one of his tasty recipes with us:
Which part of the process is the key in making a great cake?
In order to make a great cake it is important to follow the recipe very precisely. In cake baking, it’s all very mathematical. If something has to weigh 100 grams, it cannot weigh an ounce more.
Is it possible to make cakes at home that taste as great as the ones you make at Cloudstreet?
Everything I make here can easily be made at home. You’ll only need a bowl and a blender. Oil or butter are the foundation of all cakes. Then you must add the eggs, sugar, flour and flavor. It can be some chopped fruit, cocoa powder, lemon or orange. If using fruit, it is very important to use a ripe one. It caramelizes and the cake tastes much better!
C/Rosselló 112, 08036 Barcelona
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