The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Madame Muesli, Farmers' Market, & Brownies

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Madame Muesli, Farmers' Market, & Brownies

More than two months has passed since my last post on TFL, yet it feels like a brief moment in the grand scheme of things...

Anyway, never mind that. Updates, updates, updates. A few major, life changing events have happened in the past couple of months. And today I finally have a break from my bakery (in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Southeast Asia), so now’s my chance to reconnect with my fellow TFLoafers.

 

  • Greek-style pitas

  • Poppy and sesame seed mini-bagels (AKA baby-bagels)

  • Bauernbrot (German-style spiced rye sourdough bread)

For a brief while, I was regularly producing Greek-style pitas, mini-bagels, and the Bauernbrot (spiced rye sourdough bread) for clients and a weekend handicraft market. However, after much thought, I discontinued making these breads due to physical and mental exhaustion.

Really. I was pooped!

My most critical mistake was postponing staff hiring and training. Consequently, I was baking nearly every day, with less than 4 hours of sleep at a time, and developed aches in my joints from head to toe. The aches were likely the result of working large masses of dough by hand for prolonged periods. (I didn’t have a mixer and I still don’t by choice.)

 

  • Left to right (dips): Obatzda (spiced Camembert cheese spread), wasabi sour cream, seasoned tomato sauce
  • Left to right (sourdough): German-style spiced rye bread, French-Swiss influenced muesli bread, multigrain bread

  • Left to right: Homemade beef cold cuts, smoked salmon

  • Left to right: Italian pasta salad, homemade pork cold cuts

  • Left to right: Chicken roast, assorted cheeses

Late November was my birthday. I took this opportunity to host an all-you-can-eat buffet for my friends, as well as test a new sourdough bread I called “Madame Muesli”. This effort was a collaboration between me and my pseudo-brother / business partner Michael (a German chef and caterer).

(By the way, we both launched a catering company many months ago and since then have established a good reputation in town.)

 

The Madame Muesli was inspired by the French “pain de campagne” (country bread) and the Swiss muesli. 90% wheat (T65 French bread flour), 10% medium rye, featuring rolled oats, freshly toasted almonds and walnuts, and soaked black raisins.

After its positive reception at my birthday bash, I produced it for the handicraft market on the following weekend and still do to this day.

 

In early December, with just 5 vendors including myself, the first Farmers’ Market in Siem Reap was born.

Besides my breads, locally produced fruits and veggies, palm sugar, black pepper, sea salt, brown rice, free-range whole chickens and eggs were available. Miraculously, my breads sold out in only 3 hours, including the box of breads I had set aside!

 

The Farmers’ Market has opened only for the last 3 Sundays and the initiative has already acquired a few more vendors, one being Master Butcher Hagen. With over 3 decades of (butchering) experience, Mr. Hagen took the plunge and recently moved into Cambodia to start the production of artisanal German cold cuts and fresh sausages.

I’m extremely honoured and happy to say that Mr. Hagen will collaborate with my business partner and I, working closely together to improve each other’s specialties as Chef, Baker, and Butcher.

All we need now is a German beer brewer and cheese producer, then we’ll become an unstoppable culinary force in Cambodia!

 

Additionally, an Australian couple has joined the Farmers’ Market, specializing in healthy, homemade spreads and dips. Because of their worthy enterprise, sales of my breads at the market spiked!  

Funny story. They were my regular customers at a separate handicraft market. I wouldn’t have guessed that they would join the Farmers’ Market and form a partnership with me. Goes to show you, it pays to treat your customers well.


My latest creation after a month of experimenting: Chocolate Chili Brownies.

Made with chunks of Belgian dark chocolate (70% cocoa), enriched with clarified butter, free-range chicken eggs and natural palm sugar, a dash of espresso powder and buckwheat flour to amplify the earthy flavours of chocolate, a splash of Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla extract for greater depth and roundness, and a healthy dose of freshly ground spices and chili powder to take flavours up another notch.

With a description like that, you’d expect it to be a big hit at the Farmers’ Market last Sunday. And you’re right---it was! A handful of my customers went to the Farmers’ Market specifically to purchase my brownies. A woman even did a lil’ dance while sampling them! That is, without a doubt, one of the best compliments I ever received as a baker.



So what does the future hold for me?

Well, I anticipate that I’ll venture more into brownies and cookies. I seem to have a knack of making delicious, edible squares and circles. I also foresee the production of sausage rolls and savoury pastries, thanks to Master Butcher Hagen. 

But whatever happens, I need to stay true to my heart. I’m now at the point where I must decide: will my bakery remain small and humble, or will it become more industrial and dependent on machines? Of course, I can achieve a balance... but I’ve been warned by established bakers. 

Thanks for the read and keeping me motivated. I still visit TFL every now and then, but sadly I’m often too tired to comment or post. If you wish to stay updated with my journey, to transform Cambodia into a culinary hotspot for sourdough breads, please visit my Facebook page and “like” or bookmark it.

www.facebook.com/SiemReapBackerei

Farewell bread brethren!

Zita
Head Baker
Siem Reap Backerei

Comments

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

The great thing about taking on apprentices is that in a couple of years you will have competitors.  Better to get machines before apprentices and create a barrier to entry:-)  Well done and happy baking in 2015 Zita.

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, Dab! 

Very, very true. Should I find any worthy apprentices, I'd expect them to open their own bakeries in a few years time. Better get those machines before they do!

Best wishes and have a Happy New Years!

Zita 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Well done Zita. As a follower of your Facebook page I i've witnessed how your business venture is evolving. Keep up the good work, and do buy a mixer, you owe it to you self. Excellent breads by the way.

Khalid

 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, Khalid! I can always depend on you for support from abroad. :)

I haven't seen an update by you on TFL in a long while now. I'm aching to see photos and read details about what you've been up to. Hopefully things are going well for you and your bakery.

Jolly bakings, and wishing you a Happy New Years.

Zita

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

HI Zita,

I was so pleased to read of your continued success and not at all surprised to read about your 'growing pains'.  Happens to all of us and I trust you will indeed find your niche.  All comes from experience and you are getting plenty of that at a rapid rate.  You really picked an ideal spot on our globe in which to flourish.

Love the Madame M loaf!  Will have to try that one out one of these days.

Take Care,

Janet

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Rapid rate, indeed. When I began to bake professionally, I did not expect to progress this quickly. I'm nearly at my limits! But I'm thankful that my bakery is able to flourish in a country that's not known for breads. It's really a miracle.

And yes, please do try your version of the Madame Muesli. With your skills and access to higher quality ingredients, I'm sure you can do better than me. ;)

Jolly bakings and a Happy New Years,

Zita

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Well done  Zita great success and perseverance pays off, As Khalid says you owe it to yourself to have a mixer, they were invented to save those aches and pains, Deciding which one will best suit you and the breads that you are wanting to produce is a whole new challenge. It appears the farmers market may have to be called the International  farmers and trades market. Very uplifting to see people doing well through good ideas and hard work, wishing you further success in your ventures. Might even get over to Cambodia before to long for a holiday.

kindest regards Derek

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Let me know if you're visiting Siem Reap, Derek! If we meet, I'll happily greet you and give you plenty of samples of my breads. 

And yes, you and Khalid are right. I owe it to myself to get a mixer. There's just no way I can produce breads on a mass scale by hand, without compromising my health.  

All the best to you and have a Happy New Years,

Zita

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Zita:   Thanks for this extensive update.  Love all of the photos and details. I really hope everything continues to go well and you get some rest!  We love our Farmer's Market near our house in California.  How wonderful that you started the first one in your town.  Good luck in all your fine work (and baking) and good luck on all of the decisions ahead....Best,  Phyllis

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Hello Phyllis! Thank you for your compliments and best wishes. Much appreciated. :)

More and more I'm falling in love with the Farmers' Market. The thought of local food artisans becoming united just fills my heart with joy. I've been waiting for a Farmers' Market in Siem Reap for years! So, naturally, I've become a strong advocate and have been putting a lot of effort into giving it more public exposure.

Have a happy new years and wish you more sublime breads to come,

Zita

isand66's picture
isand66

Thanks for the update Zita.  I've been following you on Facebook and I'm so happy to see how well you are doing.  Your food and baked goods look fantastic and I'm sure as you grow and expand you will keep adding more and more wonderful product.  I have to say I'm exhausted just reading about all of your mixing without a mixer....do yourself a favor and get one as soon as you can so you don't burn yourself out and deprive everyone of your goods.

Have a great 2015 and I look forward to hearing more about your further adventures.

Regards,
Ian

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Hahaha, never thought of it that way. If I don't get a mixer, I risk depriving my customers of breads. Welp, I'm sold. I'll surely get a mixer, just not sure where to start. But no worries, I'll figure it all out in time.

Have a Happy New Years, Ian, and thank you so much for your continued support. :)

Zita

squarehead's picture
squarehead

its great to see are going so well for you and the bakery (and catering company) are going so well. If I ever find myself on the other side of the globe I'll be sure to look up your baKerry and try some of your amazing looking loaves (and brownies too!)

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

:) Thank you for the compliments! Be sure to contact me beforehand if you decide to visit Siem Reap one day. Would be my utmost pleasure to give you samples of my breads and brownies in person.

Have a Happy New Years, my friend!

Zita 

varda's picture
varda

Zita,  That's just terrific that you are starting a farmer's market.   Every town in the area here has one, and they are a great antidote to mass produced foods.   That you are bringing one to your town is a great tribute to your passion and perseverance.   Best of luck in the new year.  -Varda

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, Varda! More and more I'm loving the Farmers Market. Finally, a place where local food artisans, passionate in their craft, become united and help one another, which in the end benefits the community. 

Have a great new year and wish you all the best,

Zita