As a big foodie, I’ve always loved cooking or doing anything related to culinary. I’ve tried experimenting with almost every popular cuisine under the sun during the lockdown. But after years of wanting to learn how to bake, I finally enrolled myself in a bread-making class - but not just any bread-making class; a session hosted by one of the most prestigious bakery-cafe establishments in the world; PAUL.
If you’re not familiar with PAUL, the French chain specializes in French baked goods, particularly croissants, baguettes and crepes. The bakery has been around for more than 100 years old (yes, even before World War I) so when I received the invitation to learn the tips and tricks behind good bread, I couldn’t say no.
Organized at their outlet in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, each contestant was given a bowl each containing flour, yeast, and salt together with a small jug of water. For this round, the baguette was the subject in focus and I have to admit, making this wasn’t easy, so here are a few things I learned from the experience.
Treat your dough with love and respect
It’s not just about mixing the ingredients or kneading the dough. It’s about the thought you put into making the bread; the amount of water and the time you spend ensuring that your dough is nice, round and tender. Invest enough time working on your dough and I assure you that you’ll fall in love with the outcome.
‘Don’t get stressed because if you do, the bread will know and it will show’
One of the bakers told me this when I was visibly stressed out while preparing my dough. Understandably as a first timer, bread-making can pose quite a challenge. But the trust you put in the process will reflect in the results in the end. So don’t worry too much about your journey - enjoy the whole process because, at the end of the day, you’re baking this out of love anyway, right?
P/s: I also think this advice can be applied to anything in life
Understand the basics…
Like everything in life; once you truly understand the fundamentals, everything else is smooth sailing beyond that. For breadmaking, the basics include the scaling of the ingredients, kneading, fermenting and finally baking. You don’t need to master it, especially on your first attempt but try to get it as close as you can to the intended result.
…Then make your own signature style
Once you got the basics in your pocket, it’s time to leave your own mark on the bread (pun not intended). You have total freedom in determining the length or girth of your baguette. Like it long? Stretch it the way you want it. You want it thick? Make it slightly shorter. This is the time you can make this product something that’s truly yours.
Like art and happiness, bread is best enjoyed when shared
Once done, I brought the baguettes home and shared them with my loved ones over cheese and coffee - My gosh, ‘satisfying’ is an understatement because the outcome of it was truly delectable. But eating it on your own can be a bit lonesome, so share it with your friends/families and walk them through the whole process.
If you’re interested to try breadmaking, you can check out this link and register yourself here. Hurry! The slots are limited: