Friday, April 23, 2010

My prized catch of green Indonesian coffee from 4 different regions
Joseph Grenier's loaves baking in the Wachtel oven
Joseph Grenier in action
French baker from a Vietnamese flour mill
Baguette shaping in progress
Rolling the baguette
The baker from Ireks shaping baguettes
Pre-shaped Baguette dough resting in a tray
Miche from the same baker

FHA 2010-Part 2

I was fortunate to be able to attend FHA for the entire 4 day event. Here is the second installment, focusing on my 2 loves, bread and coffee. I had a first hand look at how a baguette was shaped by the baker from Ireks. Unfortunately, the bakers were often very busy and it was not possible to talk to them at length. However, a picture speaks a thousand words and just seeing them in action spoke volumes. I was happy that they were willing to share about the composition of the flours used in the breads that they were baking. It seems that they almost never use pure white flour.

Coming to my second love, coffee. I got myself a stash of green Indonesian coffee. 4 types were available at the booth that I visited. They were all organic grade 1 coffee from Lintong, Gayo, Timor and Toraja. I am looking forward to roasting them since nothing beats freshly roasted coffee. My experimental batch of Brazillian Santos coffee given to me by a kindly gentleman. He is a coffee expert whose whole life revolved around coffee and has been in the business for decades after learning from a Dutch Master Roaster. I gave a batch to my good friend and colleague and his comment was that he liked the beans because there was no harsh burnt note in them.

I fell in love with Indonesian coffee after trying out Mandheling and Toraja coffee. All these beans have interesting stories to tell but it is the full bodied richness of the coffee made from these beans that gets one hooked. So when I chanced upon a booth offering green Indonesian, I was delighted and they were equally happy that I had brought my trolley on the last day to scoop off my babies. This was because they came to the trade show without a trolley and the boss had to lug the 60kg of beans and spices as the rest of the staff were petite ladies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

King Crab
Live Abalone
Red Scorpion Fish
Gigantic Moon Fish and lobsters
Salmon, Cod and other treasures from the sea
Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world retailing at $62 for 100g
Fine seafood selection

Jamon Iberico
Surprise, surprise. Real good bread from Delifrance.
Dean Brettschneider
Selection of breads made by Dean
More breads from Dean
The friendly people from Tuksei Tezcan Flour, Fatih and associate.
The flour given to me to be tested soon.
Maasi Orimo San from Japan Salt Corporation

FHA 2010-part 1

Food Hotel Asia 2010 was finally here. Although I was expecting tickets, they arrived at the very last minute. This kept me on tenterhooks as I had promised to pass some to my group of dear baking friends. I was glad that I was able to fulfill my promise. The appreciation from this group of friends was reward enough.

I had a chance to see many bakers in action. I discussed the merits of different fermentation strategies with a German baker, Joseph Grenier and he told me that a recent trend was to have a prolonged final proof. He showed me the final proofing trays complete with lining and cover that facilitate stacking. From his explanation, there was no doubt that there was an advantage where logistics was concerned and the bake at the point of sale would guarantee that the customer gets the freshest bread.

A beautiful array of bread caught my attention and when I went to find who the skillful baker was, it turned out to be none other that Dean Brettschneider, the author of The Global Baker. Other celebrity chefs I met was the talented and funny Ryan Hong of Bespoke Dining. I was pleasantly surprised by the breads at Delifrance. The breads there were vastly different from those found in the retail outlets. It's a real pity that the breads at FHA are not available at the Delifrance outlets.

FHA was a great chance for me to talk to some Turkish millers. One miller I spoke to was Yuksei Tezcan Flour Co. The friendly Sales and Marketing Executive, Fatih Karabay gave me a kilo of flour to test when I told him about my bread baking passion. There had been some discussion on Turkish bread flour in the forums and I was very happy to get hold of some to do some testing on.

I am always on the lookout for top quality ingredients for my bread and since salt is such an important component of bread, I was happy to chance upon the Japan Salt Corporation. I had a fun time talking to Masaaki Orimo San, the General Manager of Saitama Branch. I had initially thought that it was all Japanese salt. I realised that the company carried special salt from all over the world, ranging from my regular Himalayan pink salt to Truffle flavored Guerande salt. I also recognized a bottle of Utah salt given to me by a friend.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Type 550 flour

I had a chance to try out European type 55 flour. The German classification is 550 which is an indication of the ash content of the flour. I had tried it out on baguettes and the result was acceptable as it was the first time I had used an European flour.

So far, I have been using mostly flour from the US. Typically, American flours absorb a lot more water and I had to modify my recipes significantly. This is one aspect of baking that is difficult to convey as the only way to know a dough is by getting your hands into it. I get emails from fellow home-bakers asking me about recipes and other aspects of baking. I try to answer as best as I can although deep in my heart, I know that these answers are far from adequate.

I know this by experience after reading and trying out the recipes by the well known masters. No matter how well written the instructions are, the chances of the bread turning out exactly as the author intended is slim. The reason is simple. The ingredients and environment are different. However, over time as one becomes more experienced, one will know what adjustments to make to increase chances of success.

Coming back to the flour, other than absorbing less water, I noticed that it was ground much finer than the Prima flour that I was using. For this bake, I wanted to see how it will fare with the addition of 40% WW. The pre-ferments for this bake was the entire WW portion plus 10% of my refreshed sourdough culture. The dough felt slack even though the hydration was a mere 70%. As usual, my bakes typically end late into the night and the lighting in my kitchen is less than ideal for good photographs. The consolation for this is the anticipation of sinking my teeth into a slice with a good cup of Sumatran Mandheling coffee the next morning.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

The many Easter breads posts in the forums inspired me to make some for Easter Sunday. Knowing my family's indifference to sweet bread, especially those laden with raisins, I was a little half-hearted when I made these. However, I plodded on because when you can't please everyone, you've got to please yourself.

I chose Dan Lepard's version of Stout flavored Hot Cross Buns posted in the Guardian.

Since I did not have Stout at home, I made do with some Sulawesi Toroja coffee that I had made earlier. Using coffee was also another clever tip I picked up from Dan's Black Pepper Rye bread.

On Easter morning, I woke up and made some more Toroja coffee and warmed up 4 buns for the family. The verdict from my daughter was positive but my son gave a cryptic remark saying that it was not as good as I thought it would be. I wonder what he meant by that as I have not said a single word about the outcome of the buns.

Strange Fruit

I was given a fruit to taste and identify. The golden fruit looked so pretty and delicious. I could imagine how it must have looked with a whole tree laden with the fruit.

When I cut it open, the flesh was reminiscent of soursop but the taste was new to me. It had a bright flavor which is very refreshing. The fruit had a large hard black seed and that was the clue. It reminded me of a Chiku(Sapote family) and since that fruit was originally from Central America, this fruit should be a relative.

Thanks to Google, I found that it was called a Canistel.

Following a lunch with my friend who gave me the fruit, I was promted to do a little more research on the fruit and I realized that it was not really a Canistel(Pouteria Campechiana) but something close. From the following website, it seem to be a Caimito or Abiu(Pouteria Caimito).

The difference was the color of the flesh. The Canistel had yellow flesh while the Abiu had white flesh. However, both are from the Sapote family and known to us in SEA as Buah Chiku. The Buah Chiku originate from South America so no surprises with the similarity there.

Abiu, Caimito