More artisanal bakeries have opened, selling unusual breads such as sourdough and gluten-free bread or those made with grains such as rye and teff. Bakeries here are upping the ante for customers who are looking for artisan European-style breads that are baked daily using quality flour, grains and organic ingredients. And they are not offering just the usual baguettes or croissants anymore. Some of them are coming up with sourdough loaves made with organic flour and special filtered water, gluten-free cupcakes and organic pulut hitam soft loaves.
There was a wave of such serious bakers two years ago, which included the likes of Do.Main Bakery in Tanjong Katong Road and Crown Bakery & Cafe at Crown Centre in Bukit Timah Road. Now, at least three more have entered the scene in the past five months. They are Firebake – Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant in East Coast Road, Savour’re in Upper East Coast Road and The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough at Serene Centre in Jalan Serene.
As Firebake’s founder Konstantino Blokbergen, 42, puts it: “Bread is essentially made with four ingredients – flour, water, salt and yeast. Why are there 30 ingredients listed on some bread labels? We sell proper bread, not air pockets.”
Mr Blokbergen’s restaurant not only sells sourdough loaves, but also offers a bread-centred food menu. For the couple behind The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough, they have built up a following of bread-lovers since 2013. Woodlands is part of the name because that is where the couple – Mr Chalith Kariyawasam, 36, and his wife, Ms Nurhasanah Johari, 39 – live. The bakery opened in November last year and sells sourdough bread. It is made using a bread starter of flour, water, wild yeast and naturally occuring bacteria that is left to ferment overnight. When baked, sourdough bread has a crisp crust and dense crumb which is slightly sour. Sourdough bread is said to be a healthier option because it uses natural yeast and bacteria, as opposed to commercial ones. Also, it is easier to digest because the long fermentation time breaks down the wheat and gluten in the bread.
At month-old Savour’re, owner Sylvia Koh, 50, churns out multi-grain loaves, along with other bakes such as gluten-free cupcakes and soft buns. Like the other bakers, she has noticed a demand for gluten-free bread as well, which is something they are working on. Older players in the scene are also keeping up with the times. On April 1, four-year-old organic bakery Bud Of Joy (budofjoy.com) in Circuit Road introduced its Organic Amazing Gluten-Free Sourdough Loaf ($15.80). The bakery offers organic baked goods such as 100 per cent wholemeal loaf (from $7.50) and organic pulut hitam soft loaf ($9). Other popular items include chocolate fudge cake made with organic raw cacao.
Owner Lim Her-Yi, 32, says: “Sourdough tastes slightly sour, so some people think it is rancid. But those who are used to it will not go back to regular bread.”
Ms Marhaini Mohamed, 38, main baker at Sunday Sourdough (www.facebook.com/sundaysourdough) in Upper Changi Road, which opened in September 2015, says: “In the beginning, we had to explain sourdough to our customers and let them sample it before they bought something.
“Now, we meet many who are already fans of sourdough.”
All loaves on the menu are made with organic flours such as wholegrain spelt, wholegrain rye, teff, millet and unprocessed Italian flour. Prices range from $3.50 for a sourdough cinnamon roll to $6 for a teff and flaxseed loaf. Other popular products include double chocolate chip cookies made with spelt and rye. With so many options, bread lovers are now spoilt for choice. Housewife Eleanor Ho, 41, a fan of sourdough bread, was dining at The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough last Wednesday. She tried its Vegemite and Cheddar toast, egg salad and dukkah toast, and banana walnut tea cake.
She says: “I enjoyed the crispy sourdough bread. I’ll definitely return to try everything on the menu. Even my two-year-old son loves it.”
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