Weird but true. I know of people, home bakers included, who do not like tang in their sourdough bread. What, I wonder, is the point of making sourdough bread then? For me, the tang is everything. It adds to the complex flavour of naturally leavened bread.
Finally, after eating many loaves of not-sour sourdough, I have found the best sourdough bread I have eaten in Singapore – at the low-key Baker’s Bench Bakery in Bukit Pasoh. Now I know why my friends rave about it and order masses of its bread.
The bakes here are 100 per cent sourdough – even the Plain Croissant ($4), which nails the buttery and light but also introduces a beguiling nuttiness. Is it the flour?
The Humble Loaf ($9) has the sort of tang I seek but have not found in sourdough here. Even the flatbreads – I have the Bangers & Mash ($7) version – is made with sourdough and topped with thick slices of sausage. It is, of course, less crusty than the sourdough loaves but no less delicious.
Honey Mustard Bacon, Lettuce & Egg Ciabatta ($10) makes the perfect lunch. Two thick slices of back bacon, a fried egg and lettuce charred at the edges are stuffed into a soft, slightly chewy roll slicked with mustard.
That magnificent sandwich restores my faith in humankind. I had arrived in a rage from rude service at my previous stop. That sandwich, and the friendly staff, saved my day.
Where: Baker’s Bench Bakery, 6 Bukit Pasoh Road
Open: 8.30am to 5pm (Wednesdays to Saturdays), 8.30am to 4pm (Sundays), closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Crusty or fluffy
You really have to love the Japanese attention to detail.
At Kamome Bakery, there are two versions of Red Bean Butter. One for grown-ups ($3.40), with not-too-sweet red bean paste and a slab of lightly salted butter stuffed into a mini baguette; and one for kids ($2.50), with the anko and a smaller slab of butter stuffed into a soft bun.
They each have their charm. Kamome makes excellent crusty baguettes, but if your teeth are dodgy or you are a child, the softer buns might be a safer option.
The breads here are either crusty or fuwa fuwa (Japanese slang for fluffy). But not so fluffy as to be uninteresting. All the breads here have good chew, the degree of which depends on whether you are biting into a crusty loaf or a fuwa fuwa one.
Kamome Toast ($3.90 for a loaf) – sliced white bread – has an excellent flavour, toasts up beautifully and does not stick to the roof of your mouth even if you have it untoasted. Seaweed Shio Pan ($3.40) is full of umami and is great plain.
I also love Awfully Sesame Mochi ($4), inundated with black and white sesame seeds, and filled with black sesame paste and a dollop of mochi.
In the crusty category, I like the Mini Baguette ($3.80 for three), because they are a manageable size to have with a bowl of soup. Deep flavour, a crust that crackles – I cannot ask for anything more. Oh, wait. I want mentaiko baguette and red wine bread to be available every time I go.
Where: Kamome Bakery, 193 Joo Chiat Road
Open: 11am to 5pm (Thursdays, Fridays and Mondays), 9.30am to 5pm (weekends), closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Info: @kamome_bakery (Instagram)
Maritozzo worth the calories
When hungry, angry or hangry, I go in search of bread to self-soothe. I have been angsty lately – angsty enough to drive in heavy rain to Jewel Changi Airport for my fix of Don Don Donki’s Maritozzo ($6.90).
For a country that latches on to every food trend, Singapore has been slow to get on the maritozzi bandwagon.
Aside from the Jewel store, the maritozzi are also available at the Japanese discount chain’s stores in Northpoint City, Suntec City, Waterway Point and Jurong Point.
These delightful Roman buns have been making the social media rounds. A soft, fluffy bun, often brioche, is split in two and filled with softly whipped cream in precise fashion. After the cream goes in, the offset spatula comes out, to swipe off the excess so the bun has a dazzling smile. Sometimes, the buns are studded with nuts, other times with fruit. Sometimes, it is just cream.
Maritozzi at Don Don Donki are studded with Japanese fruit such as grapes and berries.
What makes it worth the drive and the calories? The bun has a distinct buttery flavour. The cream is not at all sweet. Sweetness comes from the fruit. Take a bite with all three components and you will see what I mean.
The most fun part? Licking off the inevitable cream moustache.
Where: Don Don Donki, B1-224 Jewel Changi Airport, 78 Airport Boulevard
MRT: Changi Airport
Open: 10am to 11pm daily