Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tribute to Some of the Loaves I've Made

There is something satisfying about making your own bread, not just because you save a ton of money not paying for mediocre bread at exorbitant prices at delis and gourmet bakeries, but also the fact that you are actually making something very basic with your hands to feed your family. People feel a loss of satisfaction with the Industrial Revolution, that's a fact. Making something with your hands counts for something...

 The back story to my bread-making was when the New York Times came out with its wonderfully simple No-Knead Bread some 8 or 9 years ago, I was intrigued. Bread-making always seemed to involve a lot of hard, manual work and mysterious workings of yeast and leaveners. Until this No-Knead bread recipe burst out on the internet. The only drawback was it required a cast iron pot or a Dutch oven. I lusted after a Le Creuset cast iron pot since then, frequently checking the prices during sales. However, nothing could make me part with S$500 for a pot, Le Creuset or otherwise, not even bread.
Then fast-forward to 2010 when I started going to the US regularly for work. The opportunity to get my much-coveted Le Creuset Dutch oven arrived. For a little less than half the cost of the same at home, I could get a shiny red pot. I hand-carried my precious cargo from San Jose to San Francisco via Hong Kong to Singapore. And then the break-making started in earnest!

The bubbling of the dough mixture was most satisfying. This meant to me that the magic was working.

Leaving the dough for a 12-hour proof plus another 2-hour makes for a sourdough bread, without the need for a sourdough starter. Another shortcut! I just love this recipe. The Boy also loves this bread and would clamour for this on a weekly basis. I was also eager to cut down the cost per loaf from about $30 to a more normal $10.
I even ventured into the land of bread that required kneading after seeing a picture of the same posted by a friend. So I made these 2 loaves but as they were white bread, they weren't the hit the sourdough bread was, and so I went back to baking what the public demanded.

On a subsequent trip to the US, I even bought a second, slightly smaller Le Creuset pot in orange and I've since used that one more to bake my bread because it gives the dough a better rise because of the proportion.
I've experimented with adding dried cranberries, candied walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and dried figs to the dough. Making bread especially the No-Knead bread is easy and enjoyable and helps achieve the satisfaction quotient of making something with one's hands.

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Saturday, March 09, 2013


This mid-Century block is very modest, but it has a charm about it that sticks in my mind. It has been 3 years since we lived there and I had only lived in it for 8 or 9 months but somehow, I can't get it out of my mind. The clean, modernist lines, the beautiful green surroundings, the water nearby, the very genteel feel of the village...

I always loved Surry Hills for the vibe, the hipness, the cafes, the feel of the whole neighbourhood, but in the end, I think my heart keeps coming back to Cammeray. And maybe it's time my head admits it too. I think it's the first time I've said it out loud.

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