Bread to Europeans, is akin to rice to the Asians. A popular choice of carbohydrate in meals apart from rice, bread is readily available at neighbourhood bakeries – unless of course, you are living in Singapore. Then you have to make your own dough.
For some reason, freshly baked bread made without any preservatives and improvers are expensive and hard to come by. Most of the spread stocked at our local supermarkets come from factories and are super enriched with extra nutrients and made to last for at least four days on the shelves. While on a trip around Europe where I feasted on freshly baked bread everyday, someone asked “How do you know the bread you ate is halal?”
Apart from having the skills to read labels and understanding what actually goes into the making of the food I eat, I try my best to eat organic and real foods. Essentially, bread is made of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water. At the very most, eggs and milk are added to enrich the bread, making the dough soft and fluffy. Bread is meant to be eaten on the same day that it is baked, hence making preservatives unnecessary.
Preparing the ingredients for making bagels!
Being in the kitchen is therapeutic for me – it allows me time to think, reflect and have fun, mainly because I get to blast my favourite songs and sing along while cooking or baking. I picked up bread making over the years from YouTube videos as well as beginner classes both locally and abroad while travelling.
Waiting for the bagels to be ready after the second proofing.
I was too hungry to wait till I got home to eat the bagels.
I decided to relearn the art of making bread following a friend’s recommendation of a newly opened culinary studio owned by a lovely South African lady, Cecelia Hough. I lost my faith in making my own bread after a few failed attempts despite having attended a bread making workshop in Paris. I could not get hold of fresh yeast which was the key ingredient in the recipes given by my French teacher. I hoped relearning to make bread locally means I could replicate my success at home.
My first lesson happened on a Ramadan morning – my good friend and i decided it would be fun to make bread while fasting – trust me, it was not as exciting as we thought it would be. The mental torture of only being able to take a whiff of the yeasty aroma was excruciatingly painful. Perhaps I am exaggerating but I do recall wanting to gobble all my bread there and then. Cecelia was patient with the participants, attending to each person and helping them out when they got stuck in a doughy mess.
I’m clearly obsessed with the bagels.
Apart from foolproof recipes that we could emulate back home, Cecelia informed us on the variety of ingredients she used, and where she got them from. From my short years as an avid cook and baker, I have learnt enough that ingredients make or break your creation. It was truly useful that Cecelia showed us what were some of her favourite flours, nuts and yeast brands to ensure our bread making adventures at home are successful. Among the list of baking supplies shop is newcomer Foodsterr, which is an online grocer that carries a wide range of top grade food items for both home consumers and businesses at affordable prices, including dried fruit, nuts, oats and seeds, grains and flours, and baking ingredients. Products are sourced directly from farms and niche producers such as Murray River Organics in Australia, and Campos Brothers Farms in the US.
Onto the next bread – croissants!
After that first class, I decided to sign up for the advanced two-day bread making class which tackled some of the more difficult breads in the likes of bagels, croissants and rye bread. I had always dreamt of making my own croissants after watching numerous YouTube videos, but alas, dreams can only go so far. I knew I would mess it up if I were to attempt croissant at home. Thankfully, Cecelia’s class on croissants made me a patient woman – despite standing on my feet for hours and the tedious process of folding and proofing the bread, my croissants came out beautiful.
My croissants all ready to be popped in the oven!
So tired but so worth it!
As daunting as it may seems, making bread is surprisingly easy. With the right techniques and perfect recipes, I don’t think buying rustic loaves and croissants would ever be an option for me anymore. Now all I have to do is to wait for a good sunny day, and muster up a whole lot of patience.
You can learn to make your own bread at Chantilly Culinary Studio, a halal learning kitchen run by Cecelia Hough and her team of amazing assistants. Chantilly Culinary Studio is located at 21 Simon Rd, Singapore 545907. Visit their website for more details http://www.chantilly.com.sg/.
Looking for quality ingredients for salads, baking and cooking? Checkout Foodsterr, our newest partner. They supply a range of high quality, carefully selected and neatly packaged ingredients. They specialize in dried fruits, nuts, a variety of flour, oats and grains, and health foods. Place your order online and have it delivered right to your doorstep. Use the discount code HFH10 to enjoy 10% off your order!