breadmaking at palate sensations
Wake up and smell the freshly baked bread.
I’m usually a sleep in and see ya later kind of girl on the weekend but yesterday I rolled myself outta bed a smidge earlier to trek on down to Palate Sensations in Portsdown (where the hell is Portsdown?). If you’re smart, you will check out the PS page on Facebook where they have plenty of pictures of the building they’re in. That way you don’t get dropped off by the taxi in absolute confuzzlement.
We spent the morning with Chef Chris making raisin walnut bread, sweet brioche, and rosemary foccacia. In between risings we also churned out some hummus and guacamole (this is random, I know, but they tasted good so I’m not complaining).
Let’s take a hot minute to talk about PS. It’s been called the best cooking school in Singapore by several magazines. It’s located in one of these old school black and white colonial buildings and the place is done up right. It’s big enough to be a proper venue to learn some cooking but small enough to feel personal and homey.
The place is run by Lynette Foo who is basically my new hero. She had a cushy regular corporate job and picked up and started a cooking school. Neat, right? Where do people get this kind of mojo and can I have some? She’s going to be attending Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok next year. Again with the mojo. Color me wowed.
Okay yah so we’re making bread.
Most of the bread starts off like this.
Little mounds of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast worked up into a frenzy by the KitchenAid. That dough hook really knows what it’s doing. My KitchenAid at home will be getting plenty of action come Christmas time. The recipes are pretty straightforward. Take the dry stuff, mix it with your hands, make a well, add the liquid, turn on the mixer, mix for 10 minutes, take it out, cover it, do rise #1, take it out, do some of this and that, rise #2, bake. Easy!
The lump above is whole wheat pre-raisins, pre-walnuts, and pre-first rise. After the first rise (about 40 min or so) it gets nice and big and you get to add the fixins.
I think if I made this at home I would keep the raisins (can’t believe I just said that) and add some cinnamon and sugar to do a swirl. The walnuts are good but I could live without them. You shape it into a nice loaf like ball and let it rise one more time. Make sure none of the raisins and walnuts are hanging out outside or else they will burn off. We had to poke them all back into the dough. This rise will actually get the bread to double in size. After which you score them and bake them.
Chef Chris shaped the loaf in the foreground. You can see ours in the background is a lot bumpier. He calls this rustic which I think is code for ‘ugly but still tastes good.’ After they’re baked though they still look fab.
The sweet brioche dough was a lot stickier and wetter and butterier (not a word but applicable for this scenario).
Yes, when you eat a brioche it has this much butter in it.
We did the brioches in little loaf pans and big loaf pans. They smelled amazing while baking. This is what asian bakeries smell like – rolling waves of butter.
They took on a nice deep brown color but the consistency was not like what I thought it would be.
I was expecting brioches like this but instead ours had a more pound cake like consistency.
Maybe it’s because we did them in the loaves rather than in the bun shape or because we had to rush the rising a bit? Regardless, it still tasted good. You can’t really go wrong with that much butter. Lynette brought in some fig jam with port which I’ve never had before. If you’re wondering, it tastes nothing like fig newtons.
Finally there was the focaccia which is the bread I will most definitely be trying first when I get the chance. The dough is plain and seems versatile. If you leave out the olive oil bath you can use it to make plain ol’ white bread.
After the first rising you pour some olive oil into a pan and spread the dough out. I love how the dough feels. So elasticky and airy and bubbly.
We did rosemary but I’m looking forward to trying sundried tomato and olive or roasted garlic or maybe a sweet version with dried cherries and almonds. Yum.
When it’s still hot out of the oven, sprinkle on some course sea salt.
Look at that deliciousness. And one more picture just for fun.
Chef Chris was great to learn from. He knows his bread but is patient enough with us noobs to keep it fun. He also has the mojo since he quit his banking job to move with his wife to Tuscany and open a little hotel with a cooking school. Heroes, all of ’em.
Here ya go. Have a piece of a bread and get back to work.
The class is SGD120 for 3 hours of baking fun times. You get to bring home loads of food and they send ya home with a free bag and a free apron plus any other goodies that Lynette happens to have on hand. I officially have a new hobby that is destined to make me broke. Now… what class to take next?
Hint: If you take a taxi, try asking them to take you to Temasek Club. My cabbie knew where that was and it’s just up the ways from the the school. Otherwise MRT yourself to Buona Vista and take the 191.