Learning sourdough from the guy who makes the best sourdough in Singapore.
How our kitchen looked halfway through.
Unrelated to work, I made my first croissant back in January. I was fortunate to have one of the best teachers in Singapore: Les Amis' pastry chef, Daniel Texter. His most recent stint prior to Singapore was as the pastry chef in Copenhagen at the world's #1 restaurant, Noma. It was during his time there when renowned Vogue food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten wrote praises of his bread baking. And here I am, fortunate to learn tips and tricks personally from my blue-eyed German friend on sourdough, baguette, croissant, ciabatta, grissini and pretzels.
...Ich liebe pretzels with all my heart. I was elated to be making them. But first...
That whole sheet is pure, unadulterated butter. Nom.
Croissants are no easy task, especially if made from scratch and rolled out by hand. I'll have to admit that out of everything we made that easy-Sunday afternoon, the croissants turned out miserably (probably my fault). I mean, I personally thought they were still edible, but Mister High-Standards Chef thought they were a disgrace and just threw them out straight from the oven.
Layers of butter mean layers of fluffy, flaky croissants.
A tomb of butter and more butter.
Rolling it out is tough
work. The butter and the dough need to remain cold, and you have to be careful not to crack the butter as you fold and roll it out some more. My feeble attempts at rolling out the croissant was so pathetic, Daniel had to take over (me = worst pastry assistant ever).
If you're wondering how these little chodes become beautiful croissants... they don't. We messed up a bit.
Croissant, most often recognized as THE classic French pastry around the world, actually has Islamic origins - hence the crescent shape of the final product. Also note, that while I referred to croissant as a pastry here, it is actually categorized as a viennoiserie
|Deformed pretzels are mostly mine. Mostly.|
We were in the kitchen for hours, resulting in enough bread to feed this year's batch of NS/army guys. When I was readying the sourdough for proofing, I remember Daniel telling me to stop flouring the surface neatly. He'd scold, "Stop sprinkling like a housewife!" In the anti-Nigella Lawson demonstration, he showed how the pros do it... He flicked an unrestrained handful of flour across the surface, letting it tumble across the surface in an elegant wave of white.
This baking session actually happened way back in January. Later on for Appetite magazine's July issue, I wrote an extensive feature on French breads (baguettes in particular). Though unrelated, much of my article was inspired by this fun Sunday session at Les Amis! Thanks Daniel!