The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ni hao From beijing

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On The Waterfront's picture
On The Waterfront

Ni hao From beijing

大家好 Hello everybody!

 

Brief introduction. My name is Mike, i am 23 years old and was born and raised in Los Angeles California (palos verdes specifically for you other angelinos). I went to college at the University of California at Davis where i majored in Math (pure), Economics and a minor in mandarin chinese (note: my family is not chinese at all, we are polish/ukranian/german Jews).  Im engaged to be engaged (i.e still dating) to rural chinese girl from Changchun, Jilin, China.

After college i moved out to beijing because i found a decent job as a financial analyst out here. Also i like the fact that you can live out here like a king for no money.

 

Me and Bread: bread is like the best thing ever ever ever. The reason i got into breadmaking is because of this one experience i had at a reasturant. It was my college graduation dinner, and my parents took me to The French Laundry (worth every penny). In between one of the 9 courses that made up this meal there was a waiter walking around with breads. I of course tried every one, but the one that stood out to me the most was this "pretzel bagguette." The jewish part of me made this a first pick from their fine selection of breads.

 

Over the course of my life there i have eaten 3 seperate items that i could only describe as "so good, i couldnt sleep because i was thinking about it"

The first item arose on a trip to Guilin China. I met a guy on the plane who said that this one reasturant had the best rice noodles in guilin (a city known for its rice noodles). I get there, order a small bowl and it was absolutley mind blowing. I went back and ordered another 1kg of noodles and this delicious meet they put on it. That night i couldnt sleep cause i was just thinking about those noodles. Luckily that place was open till 2 am, and i was able to hop a cab get out there and eat about another 1/2 kg of noodles (yes i know im a pig).

The second time was in college after discovering a reasturant called Gatsby's in Sacramento. They had this Bacon Sherry burger which was about 35 billion calories and of course i ordered the elvis milkshake to top it off (Peanut butter, banana and chocolate). The burger was so good, i once again had trouble sleeping, couldnt go back there as it closed at 10 :(. I went there 5 more times that week and gained 3 lbs.

The final time was the aformentioned French Laundry trip. Unfortunatley, those of us who have been, know its damn near impossible to get a reservation. You really need to make it 2 months in advance, and call the second the lines open (to get that reservation we called 100 times from 3 different phones). So no dice i would ever seen those pretzel bagguettes in the near future.

 

Thats what got me into baking my own bread. Unfortunaley out here in china, we dont have accsess to good quality ingredients, so i make do with what i have and what my mommy can send out to me, though a 5 dollar bag of flour costs 45 dollars shipped to china.

And i still havent perfected the pretzel bagguette. When i do it will be the first recipie i post.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Get yourself some local flour and experiment.   It's a great teacher.  You might also be able to get ahold of wheat berries (already hulled grain) grind & sift coming out with a good flour containing more gluten than the average local flour.    

It didn't take me long to figure out that the flour qualities in rural China are in reverse to North America.  So when someone locally pointed out the best wheat flour to me, I knew it had the lowest gluten levels.  The only easy and sure fire way I could boost protein bonding in the dough was to add egg whites to the liquids.  About one to every 500g of flour.  Play around.  I know that this is the worst time of the year to buy eggs in China as the spoilage rate is high and stores will more often sell their old eggs first instead of the newly laid ones.   Get a good source for fresh eggs.  There are a variety of grains and seeds in your local market so don't be afraid to experiment with other flavors.     For the pretzel roll flavor without lye (keep looking for it) try the first part of your final bread rise submersed in heavely saturated baking soda water. 

Mini 

lumos's picture
lumos

你好 back, and welcome to TFL! :) 

What an interesting career and culnary life you have!  I used to work in the City (London) on a similar line of business as you are now, and though I left many years ago when I had my daughter (it was 14 hr-a-day job, everyday. Not quite ideal for a mother...) I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. Hope you're enjoying your work, too, as well as savouring the local foods where you are. 

Lucky you you've had a meal at The French Laundry!   Would you care to share any other memorable dish other apart from pretzel baguette?  ::

As for good quality flour,  if you failed to find what you're looking for locally as Mini suggested, you can try some Japanese online shops as an option.  Baking artisan breads at home has been really HOT in Japan for long time, especially  last 10-15 yrs or so, you can easily get various kinds of quality bread flour there, including many varieties of French flour or high-gluten flour for bagels.   It's only across the water from China, it should work out cheaper than having them sent from US.

This is the link to one of the largest online shop for baking ingredients/tools in Japan and the page is for their range of French flour.

cuoca

Hopefully Google translator would help you decipher what's written, but if you need any help, just PM me. (I'm a Japanese, btw, though I've been living in UK for half my life)

They're other online shops as good as the above, some of them do oversea dispatch service, some of them don't.  But even the ones who don't have a contracted courier who send the stuff for them, which you can arrange when you place an order.

best wishes,

lumos

 

ETA:  Just remembered..... txfarmer's originally from Shanghai, so may be she can give you some tips as to where/how to access good local flour.

 

 

callmejs's picture
callmejs

亲爱的Mike: 你好!

Welcome to TFL!  I lived in Beijing for a little while a few years ago.  Loved that city!!

Not sure it's still the case, but back then I managed to find some decent "oo" flour to entertain some friends with home made pizza at the local Jenny Lou's store.  

再见!

博嘉龙 (aka Sébastien)

 

Syd's picture
Syd

Welcome to TFL, Mike.  :)  I agree with Mini re: try the local flours first.  The only imported flours I have ever bought here in Taiwan are semolina, rye and most recently some Tipo 00 but, really, they are just too expensive for everyday use and while they are nice to have every now and then, I can't justify the expense.  (Generally speaking, the imported flours are about 3 to 4 times the price of the local flours).  If you are going to be making bread on a regular basis, I think the only way to go is use what is available locally.  It might take some time to work out which formula/process suits your flour best, but I have yet to find a flour that is totally unusable.  However, if you find you can't make what you want with the flour available and money is not a problem, then as Lumos suggested you can get some excellent quality flours from Japan.  I am sure Beijing must have DIY baking stores like we have here in Taiwan and Japan and they are sure to stock some decent flours. 

Best,

Syd

siuflower's picture
siuflower

If you travel to Hong Kong and you will find Amercian flour in the western market. There are a few bakery stores in Hong Kong, I shopped there last year and saw Gold Medal fours, SAT yeast. In the market you can easy to find grains that you can use for baking bread.

On The Waterfront's picture
On The Waterfront

"Get yourself some local flour and experiment."

Hi i have definitley tried this, with everything i could find at carrefour.

From my experiences the chinese flours are of pretty awful quality. They are suitable for making the chinese bread known as 馒头, which if you have had is not very good. Also noodles i guess.

"Lucky you you've had a meal at The French Laundry!   Would you care to share any other memorable dish other apart from pretzel baguette? "

The whole experience was pretty memorable. My favorite thing there was actually in between the first and second dishes they had these little sushi like cones with salmon and something else. They were fantastic. Other than that the Mushroom soup was very delicous but what was most memorable was the presentation how they present a bowl with nothing but 3 mushrooms then delicatly pour the soup out.

As far as the japanese flour goes that would have been fine right when i got out here (which is probably what i should have done). But after the earthquake the chinese gov't freaked out (as usual) and banned a ton of food imports from japan. Ill have to do more research if i can get this stuff delivered.  

“Jenny Lous"

As far as the jenny lous (by my house) it does not carry flour. I know there are probably larger stores in beijing. Ill probably check them out sometime this weekend. If not, next time i go to korea ill pick up a couple bags.

As far as yeast, my mommy shipped me a care package out with 2lb's of bread yeast. That should last me a decent time :)

Ill have to look around in hong kong. But everytime i head way down south im always wanting to go macau

[x] degenerate gambler here :)

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi, there.

Thanks for sharing your delicious memory of The French Laundry.  Yeah, I can see the meals there was really memorable. It's not only food, is it, what wonderful about that class of restaurants, but the whole experience is.

The restriction on food imported from Japan has become quite strict here in UK, too, since the earthquake.  When I went to my regular Japanese food shop a few month ago,  a lot of things they usually had were out of stock and some of them having been replaced by some other completely unknown brand or imported from a manufacturer's a production base in other countries if they had. 

Do you have any opportunity to go to Tokyo or Osaka on business or something? If you do, let me know. I can tell you where you can get good baking ingredients/equipments over there. (or will Beijing airport's custom officers inspect every item in your suitcase?)

btw, lucky you can get good and authentic 馒头 everywhere, everyday!

lumos

 

P.S.      Hope you're suppressing your gambling instict when you're analysing!  :p

 

callmejs's picture
callmejs

Hi Mike,

Did you know that you can place your order online and get it delivered from Jenny's?

http://www.jennyshop.com.cn/shop/index.php?gOo=goods_search_list.dwt&gkey=flour&gprice_from=&gprice_to=&imageField.x=0&imageField.y=0

Good luck,

JS

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Hi Mike,  welcome to China. I'm located in Shanghai,  and I've tried a couple of the so called organic local flour,  didn't quite like the feel of it.   Currently,  I‘m using 金象牌 bread flour, made locally by a company in HK.  was introduced to this by a restaurant owner who bakes their own bread. I ordered this through the dry goods store in the local market.  it only comes in a sack though 22kg.  I reckon I can finish within 6 mths with my baking schedule on a weekly basis.  if you bake a lot,  this is quite a good white flour. 

If you are looking for imported flour,  Carrefour usually have an imported section - Gold Medal - most supermarkets carry this brand anyway,  but I find it costly.  Another supermarket that carries german brand flours is City Shop.  I think they are in Beijing too. you may check that out.  They do delivery too,  check them out. www.cityshop.com.cn

hope this info is useful to you! 

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

comments. I'm also using the same flour for my breads.  This flour is used by most local bakeries and is also being used in my bread making class .  I can buy this from the school at HK$7.00 per 500 grms.  which comes from a large sack.  You can also get them in a box @ HK$26 per kilo from most supermarkets. 

- Judy

On The Waterfront's picture
On The Waterfront

Yeah this thread shows how much i fail at google :(

I just ordered some from jenny lou's.

I have been using the Gold medal from carrefour for a while, now that i know about jenny lous probably just be sticking with stuff i get from there. Thanks everybody.