The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Farmers' Market, Supermarkets, Food Shop

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Farmers' Market, Supermarkets, Food Shop

Man oh man, how long has it been? 3 months since my last post on TFL? Well, it’s about time I post a quick update on my progress.

For those who don’t know, I’m an amateur baker turned pro (for about a year), now operating a sourdough microbakery called Siem Reap Bäckerei in Cambodia, Southeast Asia.

 

In my previous post, I mentioned the launch of a Farmers’ Market in Siem Reap, the first of its kind in the city. Initially, traffic was high and steady but since then has slowly dwindled.  

The future existence of the Farmer’s Market seems doubtful, but I’ll remain optimistic until the ship sinks.

 

About a couple of months ago I discontinued the production of my bread rolls. Too much effort for too little money. Some of my regulars were upset with the decision, but what else could I do? Plus, my health and happiness was compromised. The bread rolls weren’t naturally leavened and my heart belonged to sourdough. 

 

In early April, one of my clients, a luxury resort in Siem Reap, requested me to prepare challot (plural for challah) to their specifications for a Jewish event in March. Having little experience with challah, I was reluctant to accept the request but did so anyway. I had one month to prepare myself, so why the heck not?

Every week thereafter, I tested and adjusted my recipes, offered and sold my experimental challot at the Farmers’ Market.

 

Finally, trial after trial I was satisfied with my final product. Made with a stiff sourdough, unbleached T65 French flour, whole durum wheat flour, free-range chicken eggs, natural mineral water, extra virgin olive oil, honey, sea salt, and commercial yeast, topped with poppy seeds.

Praise the bread gods, my client and their customers were super happy with the challot!

 

Not too long ago, in mid-March, we celebrated the birthday of my business partner. We hosted 100 or so guests, with the majority being local Cambodians.

I was shocked to discover that my breads were depleted by the end of the party. Sourdough breads are generally incompatible with the palates of locals, and I was certain that the bulk of my breads would be left untouched!

For about 2 or 3 weeks I have been delivering my breads to an acclaimed Khmer restaurant called Garuda. Garuda is situated in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.

It’s official! My bakery’s reputation has reached beyond our home base in Siem Reap!

 

Currently, I produce only 2 sourdough breads on a regular basis: a 7-grain loaf and a muesli loaf (containing walnuts, almonds, raisins, and rolled oats). I’m now working on a third loaf I call “Snow White”. It’s a French-style country bread whose greatest advantage is its food pairing versatility. Cheeses, cold cuts, sweet or savoury dips and spreads, soups, you name it.

Trials are nearly complete, perhaps as soon as the end of this week. I’m convinced the Snow White will be a big seller, so I’ve been anxious about its completion.

 

Look! Eco-friendly, paper bag packaging!

We’re now on our way to supplying sourdough breads to a few major supermarkets in town---but mini-sized. Why? Because we now know there’s high demand for tiny, adorable breads, more so than our standard 1 kilogram and half kilogram loaves.

As a test, last Sunday I made mini 7-grains (200g each) for the first time at the Farmers’ Market. Unexpectedly, they all sold out within a few hours.

 

My latest project: opening Phsa Aha (i.e., Cambodian for “food shop”), a cooperative artisanal food shop and restaurant.

For months my business partner and I searched high and low for a cafe or restaurant to house our breads. But, then, we realized dozens of food artisans in Siem Reap were in a similar position.

In the span of a few weeks, we’ve hunted down some of the best food artisans residing in Siem Reap, including a master butcher from Germany, a pastry chef from France, a former barista / now coffee consultant from Australia, a cheese producer from Italy, a free-range egg producer from Switzerland, several farmers of organic produce, and a few other skilled persons in the food arts.

Phsa Aha is coming into fruition, folks, and I can hardly contain my excitement!

 

Although I’m not around as often as I like, please feel free to message me for tips, thoughts, or whatever. It’s nice to stay connected with fellow bread bakers, especially in a country where they’re far from many.

Thanks so much for reading up on my bakery. Farewell and may your breads give you and others everlasting happiness!

Zita
Head Baker 
Siem Reap Bäckerei

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Zita,

I don't drop in here much so it was nice to see your blog when I did have time today to check out what has been happening lately.  

I love reading about the strides you are making with you breads etc.  Seems like things are flowing well and that you are expanding into new territory - both with breads/foods you are making and places to sell your 'products'.  Opportunities seem like they pop up everywhere.  You lead a very exciting life indeed :)

Thanks for sharing and your breads/food look wonderful as ever.  I love your challah loaf.  Beautiful braiding and the poppy seeds accent it nicely.

Take Care,

Janet 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Hi Janet!

Good to see you're still around! Indeed, life is becoming increasingly hectic for me, but in a positive way. So many opportunities, so many things to try. Shame that I can't post as often, but at least I can clump together and present them as a quick update.

Thank you and wish you all the best,

Zita


dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Your successes are welcomed news around here.  Just fantastic news.  Now you need to make a cook. baking book and get an artisan food show on the local TV and you will be set to be too busy for any normal person - but you are not normal a all.  Well done and

Happy baking. 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Hey Dab!

Not a bad idea! If I had the time and money, I'd dive into book writing and TV show hosting. But I'm only one man, with a limited time. Gotta say, I feel quite happy with where I'm at. And I have to be careful, otherwise I'd overwhelm myself.

Keep up the great bakes you do and see you around!

Zita

nmygarden's picture
nmygarden

Wow, Zita, you are a whirlwind of activity! Having such absolutely spectacular products, it's no wonder the demand continues to grow. Congratulations on your continued and expanding success. And come back to see us real soon, okay?

Cathy

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, Cathy! :)

Good products combined with good marketing, good networking, and good management skills are keys to my success. Wasn't easy, but with enough positivity, patience, and persistence, life can only get better.

Thanks again and special cheers to you,

Zita