The Fresh Loaf

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Baking, Catering, & Greek Pitas

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bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Baking, Catering, & Greek Pitas

Oh dear... How long have I been away from TFL? 

HA! Trick question. I was always here, browsing and skimming through posts. It's just, I've been mighty busy with my bakery (Siem Reap Bäckerei) and other matters in Cambodia. In fact, my eyes are often bloodshot because I rarely sleep more than a few hours at a time. Really, yesterday I only had a total of 5 hours of shut-eye. The day before that, 6 hours. And so on, and so on.

That's the nature of opening a relatively new business. Thankfully it's getting better and better after each passing day.




Just about every day now I produce and supply German bread rolls to one of the top resorts or boutique hotels in Cambodia. I'd like to mention their name, but I can't. Not without permission. The last time I did that I received a stern warning.

But still... WOOHOO for having such a reputable client!!




In collaboration with Siem Reap BBQ, a catering service and sister company to my bakery, every Sunday we deliver whole beer-in-the-butt chicken roasts, roasted potatoes with homemade chicken gravy, mixed salads, bread rolls. plus weekly specials such as pork ribs and Greek platters.

Now let me tell you one thing that's significant about this.

Most streets in Cambodia are un-named. Most houses in Cambodia are also un-numbered. Consequently, most restaurants and food-related establishments in town do not offer delivery.

So how do we find and deliver to our customers? Descriptive descriptions, of course. We often call our customers---repeatedly---and conversations go something like this:

"I'm at the gas station now. Where do I go next?"

"Keep going straight until you see a blue shed. Then turn right and keep going straight again until you see a tall, white house with a barbed wire fence. My house is near it."

"Uhhh... okay."




I'm also the baker at the Cambodia Catering Company (CCC). The CCC is actually the parent company of Siem Reap BBQ and Bäckerei. We specialize in canteen management for hotels, schools, factories, and other organizations, but we also provide catering services. (That's a no brainer, right?)

With a team of 16 staff members to date, which includes myself, my business partner and his wife, we currently produce 300 staff meals on a daily basis for a major hotel and factory in Siem Reap. Try imagining that amount of food. It's incredible! And the crazy thing is that we're aiming for the production of 1,000 staff meals per day by the end of this year.

Can we do it? Don't know, but we'll work off our butts and try.




One of the things I'm proud about the CCC is that we actively hire disadvantaged women from rural districts in Cambodia. Some of them lack formal education, not having gone to secondary school due to family- and/or financial-related constraints. Even when those constraints are lifted, it's difficult for them to find well paid jobs to support themselves.

They deserve much better. Don't know about you, but I think it's really, really cool that our company is helping to empower these wonderful, hard working women. 




Over the past week or so I've been experimenting with recipes for Greek-style pocketless pita breads. I don't remember how many pitas I went through and discarded, but I kept encountering the same problems. Too much or too little charring and browning. Or too hard and stiff crust. Or too much air in the pita.

I was under pressure. I only had a few days until I had to bake pitas for a Greek themed birthday party for a friend... 

Who knew pitas could be so complicated?




SUCCESS!! I finally created the pita I was aiming for: a bubbly, off-white flatbread, with a soft, tender crumb, and blotches of browning on a delicate crust. 

Anyway, last Sunday for my friend's birthday party, we made fresh Greek-style pitas by yours truly, roasted lamb chops, tzatziki (seasoned yoghurt with chopped vegetables), Greek salad, guvec (tomato sauce rice), and pork souvlaki (grilled marinated meat skewers). 

On that day I passed out from eating so much food... Hey, could you blame me?

--- 

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. Much appreciated. To all my friends on TFL, keep on baking, keep it up. I have not forgotten you!

Take care all and, as always, jolly bakings!! :)

Zita
Head Baker
Siem Reap Backerei

Comments

SMaren1986's picture
SMaren1986

Nice...

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you! :)

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

It all looks so good!  But after looking at what you are up to I'm glad I am retired and get more sleep:-)  Keep after it and

Happy baking and cooking

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Haha, yeah! There are days when I don't want to get out of bed, but the dough calls for me. Like a mother to a child, I just can't ignore it.

Thank you for the kind words, Dab. Take care and happy bakings!

isand66's picture
isand66

Wow!  Zita I'm so impressed with what you've accomplished in such a short time.  Everything looks awesome and I love the fact you're able to give some disadvantaged women a steady job.  Please post your pita recipe if you can or PM to me.  I've had pitas on my list and would like to try yours.

Congrats again.

Regards

Ian

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

:) Thanks, Ian! 

I'll send you a detailed recipe for my pitas by PM sometime later. I only woke up an hour ago and my brain isn't fully functional. Wait, no, I don't think it has been fully functional for a while now, but you know what I mean.

Zita

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Zita,

Wow.  I can't believe how much you have accomplished since you last posting.  Sounds like business is hopping and all the food you posted looks delicious!

Take Care,

Janet

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you so much, Janet! Appreciate the compliments. :)

Indeed, the business hops. But it's hopping like mad and I don't know how long I can keep up. Hindsight, I should have exercised more regularly before entering the bakery business. It's tough on the body!

Zita

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Zita:  Your work is fantastic.  Congratulations.  The food and bread look so yummy, and thanks for sharing your story. You are very busy, but it's wonderful to do something you love and help people while doing it.  I have wondered where you have been.  Last time I heard from you, you were working on a seven grain....hope it turned out well.  I am sure it did, seeing all your fine work here.  I hope you can get some rest.  Please continue to check in with us and share the photos!  All the best,  Phyllis

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, Phyllis! You're so kind! :)

The Seven Grain did turn out well.Very well, actually. According to my business partner, it was the best bread I had ever made. Unfortunately, I'm unable to produce this bread with consistent results because of Cambodia's fluctuating hot and humid climate. So now we're saving money to buy a proofer or set up a chilling room ourselves.

Also, I'll send you my recipe for the pitas by private message. I hope you enjoy it!

Take care and jolly bakings,

Zita

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

I will be looking for that recipe as well.....Phyllis

cranbo's picture
cranbo

and great baking, Zita, nice work! 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, Cranbo. :)

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Your writing and photography are inspiring, as is what you are doing.  I am so glad to see things are super busy.  Sounds like you are a real success, being able to employ so many people. That is awesome.

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, David! It's not often when somebody compliments my photography and writing! :)

Thanks again and best wishes to you,

Zita

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Best wishes for contined fun and success.

Paul

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

:) Thank you, Paul. Much appreciated.

Zita

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

How does the mail work in Cambodia? Do people just go to the local post office?  It seems so odd not to have an address! How do people get utilities like water and electric if there is no billing address? Seems crazy to think that the utility company goes door to door to collect payment.

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Well, not quite. Utility companies don't go door to door for payment. Rather, tenants must pay utility bills to their landlords or visit the utility company to make payments. Otherwise, they can turn off access to electricity or water in your house without prior notice.

Sounds strange, doesn't it? :)