The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Baker in Siem Reap, Cambodia

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Bread Baker in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sometimes when my heart's heaving, when I'm struggling to smile or lift my head high, I think about my friends, my beloved customers.

One time, a regular at the farmers market gifted me a bag of organic rye flour (non-existent in Cambodia) & a glass bottle of baker's yeast... manufactured in 1956!

My jaw dropped.

Another time, another regular surprised me with a bottle of 100% pure, natural maple syrup (another scarcity in Cambodia) harvested by her family in Canada.

As a Canadian, f**king eh!!

Other times I reminisce about enthusiastic encounters with visiting bread bakers from across the globe---USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, wherever---a few who took time & effort to find me!

When I reflect deeply on my life as a bread baker, I'm reminded of 3 critical things: I am respected; I am appreciated; And I am loved.

Despite the hardships of running a traditional sourdough bakery in Cambodia, combined with personal afflictions, its moments like these that pushes me forward.

Mr. Zita
Head Baker
Zita's Bakery​
Siem Reap, Cambodia


A brief timeline of my progress this year:


  • Earlier this year I acquired a new, triple deck, stone hearth oven from Taiwan. No steamer. I named her "Poppling". 

  • My bakery's new logo (previously "Siem Reap Bäckerei") & business cards. Made from fibrous banana tree stalks in Cambodia. Natural, biodegradable & fair trade.

  • My bake sale stall at the Sunday Farmers Market.
  • Front row: Muesli Sourdough (left) & 7 Grain Sourdough (right). Back row: an assortment of yeast breads (bagels & German-style bread rolls). 
  • Notice the "Z" on my 7 Grain loaves? They're my bestselling breads. 

  • Me, organizing my bake sale stall at a cafe. Yes, those are pretzels I'm handling.

  • My breads can be found in a few luxurious, top rated restaurants & boutique hotels in town---my preferred clients. Why? Because they make custom orders (I love new challenges) & they're willing to pay higher price for greater quality.

  • I launched a separate brand called "Kookie King" months prior to my bakery's new branding (Zita's Bakery). Besides my reputation as the "Bread Baker" in town, I'm also known to do cookies well. 

  • Challenged by my friends, I created a tropical, vegan, gluten free cookie, using as much local ingredients as possible. I call them "Cashew Kiss". Inspired by the Italian "Baci di Dama". Contains salak (snake fruit) & lime cream. 
  • Next steps: create a variety of flavours, design & produce packaging, sell them in specialty shops, cafes, restaurants, & hotels across Cambodia. (Yes, I'm highly ambitious.) 

  • Latest creation: Cider English Muffins & Swiss Cheese Buns. (Bagels are my second bestselling breads.)

An invitation to serious bread bakers: if you're heading to Siem Reap, Cambodia, please feel free to contact & visit me. I'd be honoured to meet other bread fanatics, especially established, experienced bakers. (I still consider myself a novice baker.) 

Cheers!

Comments

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

Your breads and advocacy are amazing! I also try to incorporate local ingredients in my breads as well. I love your eco-friendly cards, they look smart as well! Keep baking, you're a huge inspiration! I'm wishing you more success in the future!

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, Pal! :)

I love my eco-friendly cards as well. Two, big thumbs up to my concept designer. And for sure, I'll continue baking... I mean, it's hard to imagine myself not baking at all. 

Zita

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Are you still doing catering with your restaurant Partnere?  Love that oven!  Love the new name for the bakery too!

Well done and happy baking Zita 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Hi Dab! 

Indeed, I've come a long way! Accompanied by a lot of stress, mental & physical exhaustion. Was it worth it so far? For me, heck yeah!!

Yes, I'm still catering with my business partner. The primary reason why my bakery lasted as long as it did. However, since I last posted several months ago on TFL, several of our plans took unexpected turns. Many failed, few succeeded. You know, strange how things unravel. 

Zita

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Bravo, Zita!  Amazing work you are doing.

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

:) Thank you, Floyd!

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

Great to see the new oven you have...congratulations!

It would be great to hear about your experience with it (see my recent thread on microbakeries).  Nice work and best of luck...

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Hi Bikeprof,

Thank you for the best wishes. Much appreciated. :)

I can't seem to find the thread your referring to. Definitely piqued my interest.

Cheers!

Zita

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof
Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi ZIta,

How lovely to find an update from you here today.  I love reading about how things are progressing in your part of the world and you sure have progressed quickly!

I am envious of the oven :)

Thanks for posting and your great photos too!

Take Care,

Janet

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Hi Janet! Great to hear from you again!!

Progressing quickly, indeed. However, there's much I've omitted from the timeline (multiple failed activities & projects) but my bakery's still thriving. Unbelievably, somehow.

I'll try to post more often. It's nice to reconnect with fellow bakers from TFL every now and then. Kind of therapeutic, actually.

Jolly baking, 

Zita

isand66's picture
isand66

Zita, so happy to see your update.  Congrats on the new oven and your collection of baked goods looks awesome.  I hope i can come and visit you one day if it's ever possible.  Let me know if anyone is making picture frames and mirrors in Cambodia as I've been working on producing those types of home decor items but all from China right now.

Good luck and keep us posted!

Best Regards,

Ian

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thanks, Ian! 

Yes, please do visit if you have the opportunity. I'm sure we'll have a blast! 

Will let you know if I find such manufacturers in Cambodia. But as far as I know, shoes, garments, and a few agricultural products seem to dominate Cambodia's output for the international market.  

Cheers and jolly baking!

Zita

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I understand that getting your bakery going has been a struggle, but you are describing a lot of success. And your products really look wonderful.

I enjoy reading about your progress and about Khalid's. There are many parallels.

Happy baking and best wishes for the new year!

David

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, David! It's comforting to know that I have supporters from around the world. :)

True, I've had several successes... accompanied by a myriad of failures that I didn't mention. My bakery nearly went down under a few months ago. Much heartache was felt during that period, but I'm still thriving, my bakery's still thriving, and I'm tremendously grateful for that.

I've been keeping eye on Khalid's progress as well. Our primary clients are foreign expats and he's experiencing a number of problems that I'm experiencing. I'm sure of it. Strangely, I consider him as my "baker brother" from afar. 

Jolly baking and a happy new years to you, too!

Zita

Mebake's picture
Mebake

A belated comment, but here it goes

I'm happy things are unfolding favorably for you despite the hardships and afflictions. they are familiar to me now. Hang in there , friend, i see you from a vantage point, and trust me when i tell you, that you are making inspiring progess, and things are shaping up quickly for you. 

Press on, continue to bake and innovate. There is light like no other at the end of the tunnel.