Since I am sharing with professional bakers, I might as well share with some of you here who might be interested… … Tommy Lee: “The respect of the final dough temperature I want to achieve is VERY important in my bakery. Is our experience to control and achieve the temperature we want for a long and slow fermentation at the initial stage and slowly build up to the temperature of our environment. The golden rule in my bakery is not to knead the dough above 25 degree. I don‘t care how one do it, at 25 degree, the dough must be combined and correctly developed already. The only temperature we can alter from the ingredients is water (cold). And with the help of our mixer that produces friction (heat). I don’t like to torture and over oxidised my dough, so we only use slow speed and maybe end with 1-2 mins of high speed to reach 25 degree. THE MORE YOU STRAIN THE DOUGH, THE LONGER YOU HAVE TO REST TO DENATURE THE GLUTEN BOND. If the dough is not sufficiently rested, the complexity of the gluten developed during kneading will strain the human gut. And this is one reason, I strongly feel that we suffer gluten intolerant today. Bakers today do not rest their dough long enough to denature gluten for safety digestion. Don’t forget, during bulk fermentation, force can still be built with time and/or with punch down. From some of our formal training, there is a table to respect depending on the mixing (lente (slow), améliorer (improve) or intensive) style and the kind of machine used. But at the end, is the principle we need to understand to control our technique. In any case, if you need to accelerate the fermentation, my advice is: DO NOT increase the dosage of the yeast but instead increase the temperature of the final dough a bit to 28 maximum in our hot climax. At the end of the day, RESPECT YOUR DOUGH, KNOW YOUR GOLDEN RULES and train yourself to achieve it! (This is ONLY for the kneading stage)”
Sharing one of my conversations with a student reading nutrition… Student: “Hi tommy i m from kepong an lately has been searching for sourdough bread. One of my family friend then introduce me to Tommy le Baker. Also, as a nutrition student, I view through your profile posts and m really intrigued in the passion and knowledge u have for bread. Thanks for the knowledge u share with the public! Hope to learn more from you
I do not bake multi-seeded or multigrain breads.
240°C is the temperature of my bread oven.
According to the article below, seeds cannot be subjected to heat and yet many continue to recognize these breads as premium and the healthiest! There are introducing toxins into their body, especially digesting seeds and grains encrusted on the surface of a loaf, now try and discover bread through their taste of fermentation…is like beer, wine, cheese…
“…There is only one way to derive nutrition from seeds and that is to eat them raw. Once they are exposed to heat, they produce toxic substances and the vitamin, mineral and essential oil profiles are denatured…”
“How Long Can Your Bread Last, Tommy?”
This is a question from many of my customers everyday. And I have been trying very hard to find a way to reply.
I look at every single loaf in my shelf and I ask them: Can “you” please tell me how I should reply to every single patron who might be bringing “you” home?
Bread: “Tommy, we have been nurtured, raised and baked here by you in your city. Your city folks have been introduced to bread that has brought great convenience to their lives for their economic and financial values. Bakers like you know how we naturally aged like every single human being.
Listen carefully to their question again. Do you think this question can be applied to how we are raised and baked?
Is a modern question; is a question from folks who have been raised and assured by the social convenience of modernization which leads to fear of wastage when they bring us home.
Please be fair to us, we are not those breads that you used to raise by your engineering skills to keep us soft and pretentiously fresh. But you insisted that we can survive in your culture. You quarrel with your customers not to pre-sliced us because we are too fresh and need to be matured and be retaining our freshness as a whole loaf blah blah blah…
We feel weird, we feel out of our natural context where we should be existing. However, it has never felt better in a context of being re-invited to be masticated by your patrons.
Don’t worry, as long as you nurture our culture, raise us in your environment, let us do the rest…nobody can communicate the sense of taste better than us. We know who NEED us and who WANT us. We are sorry being so inconvenient for most of your patrons. However, is not only about us, is also about development of taste and time.
Good morning to you! Writing this message while savouring you baguette sprinkled with mozarella cheese…simplest yet tastiest! If you don’t mind replying, can I check with you re the term: sprouted bread? Came across this word lately as I googled for suitable food for eczema patients and the bread is strongly recommended. I read in your website that your bread all goes through tedious fermentation process to bring out the nutrients, enzymes etc of a bread. So is this also termed as sprouting the bread? Then I am on the right track as we are consuming your bread! Bravo! Well, although not daily as we make a trip to your shop from Bandar Utama once a week…
Have a great day ahead!! Cheers!”
Sprouted bread is a bread made with sprouted wheat grains. Sprouted wheat are usually added to regular bread recipes in the form of whole grain, paste or dried powder as malt. But most of the content in the bread is flour. Flour is milled from non sprouted wheat grains.First, you might want to ask yourself, what happen when wheat is sprouted. To sprout grains, we need water to dampen the grain. During this soaking process, a significant amount of phytic acids (which is an inhibitor in most grains and legumes) starts to break down. Gluten in the wheat also gets broken down for better digestion eventually.
I personally believe that consumption of high phytic acid products in the long run will weaken our body immune system because it inhibits our body to absorb 4 main minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium) which is fundamental for growth.
Therefore, similar to sprouting wheat, flour also needs to have a significant amount of timespan in water. In making bread, the longer the fermentation process, the longer will the flour be soaked in water before we turn it into real noble bread. Fermentation is a process to cultivate taste in bread with yeast or natural leaven but also simultaneously soaking flour to breakdown complexity of nutrients for human digestion.
I subject all my breads to a tedious process with pre-ferments we culture in the shop, main purpose is to breakdown as much as possible the complexity of grains/flour. I have always say this to many people: If we do not respect the nature, the nature will harm us. So, respecting the fundamental of fermentation is my business.
I have many customers facing the same problem as you with bread. Stomach bloating, eczema etc…I have a bakery today and I can tell you this is an alarming social problem. But don’t panic and don’t blame other breads. This social problem can be understood by reading social history, in this case, the social history of bread. Malaysia don’t know so much about history I am talking about because the bread we know until today was introduced much later by the English after their post war industrialisation…so to say, our bread is already “modern”. Everybody needs to go to work and build their country after war, so no time to make bread. Bakery also cannot supply the amount of bread a household needed. So build factories, make lots of bread in the shortest amount of time to feed the population. What population? The population of “baby-booms” after war. So these population of baby-booms ate a lot of “no-time” bread during economy growth. So i guess you can imagine how much mineral deficiency they already suffered. If a mother cannot absorb the minerals when she was carrying her baby, how can her baby be born to be full “mineralised”? And I guess, this is why ppl blame gluten. This modern disease of gluten intolerant has taken such a huge hooha. If gluten is so dangerous, all the civilisations that eat bread would have vanished by now.
This model of industrialisation was entirely reproduced in Asia and hence Malaysia kena! The methodology in milling to bread production we know until today, is modernised already.
Lastly, please don’t just polarized on bread. Your daily stable is not ONLY on bread. Other foodstuff in our economy also suffered from similar disrespectful treatment that eventually will surface on our skins! In this case, A BREAD HAS TO BE GOOD TO THINK BEFORE IT IS GOOD TO EAT! So think about other food you eat also.
My breads are very inconsistent. I constantly neglect the image that consumers form of bread, because I know is an image that would influence their taste. And I enjoy telling ppl that I am selling inconsistency because I have a point to make. GOOD-LOOKING BREAD IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD BREAD.
“Gluten, one of the most heavily consumed proteins on earth, is created when two molecules, glutenin and gliadin, come into contact and form a bond.” Any baker who makes bread have been trained to understand that these bonds (gluten network) have to be sufficiently developed enough in order for the dough to trap gas (CO2) during fermentation. This is the most crucial aspect for many bakers. Why? Because we are selling “AIR”. Yes, AIR, trapped in a network of gluten. This is our business, the more air we trap, the more revenue we will have! Let’s be honest, we love to eat soft breads. We are all raised by soft commercial sandwich loafs from the west. We love to eat AIR basically…
“The lighter the bread, the better I feel because the more I eat light the more I feel light!”
Here’s the question from the article:
“The most obvious question is also the most difficult to answer: How could gluten, present in a staple food that has sustained humanity for thousands of years, have suddenly become so threatening? There are many theories but no clear, scientifically satisfying answers.”
I am no scientist, I am a baker.
Everybody in business are trained to listen. To who? Especially to those who pay.
Who are those who pay? YOU! Yes, bakers listen to YOU! But have you actually listen to YOURSELF what you WANT from a baker?
Well, for that I can share with you since I am a bread baker, salesman for bread additives before and I am also a businessman now.
Below are some examples and what we do to gluten to achieve consumer’s demands apart from adding other ingredients or employing different techniques.
“I want my bread to be soft from the crust to the crumb” – ENFORCE the gluten, makes it STRONG, RESISTANCE and TOLERANT to hold as much gas as possible. (Asian eating profile)
“I want my customers to eat my sandwich and the bread would not crumb” – basically same as soft breads (Sandwich shop operator)
“I want my bread to be frozen for transportation to export markets” – LUBRICATE the gluten so that it will not break easily during freezing (Manufacturer)
“I want my bread to be partially baked and freezed for ppl who wants to own a bakery but is not a baker” – STRENGTHEN the gluten (industrial bakery for franchises)
“I want my bread to stay moist in the open display shelf” (donuts)
“I want my bread to stay crusty in a plastic bag” (Airline Caterer)
“I want my bread to be functional when I go toilet” (high-fibre)
“I want my bread full of bran, seeds and grains and still holds volume”
“I want my bread to look and taste the same all the time, consistency is the key!!!”
With all these stuns YOU want your bread to achieve to serve you, bakers need to look far beyond their limitations.
Dough conditioners, strengtheners & softeners that have been developed over the course of the past century as a way to speed up and reduce the variability in bread making. They result in more efficient and cost-effective bread-making processes, and produce breads with improved and consistent quality. New advances in science continue to increase the effectiveness of dough conditioners available to bakers.
“No time” dough processes, which require little or no resting, are a common goal. Some processes use high-speed, high-energy mixing to speed up the gluten development. Dough conditioners can offer similar results. Often dough conditioners and high-speed mixing are combined.
NOW, PLEASE ASK YOURSELF WHO HAS TURN THEIR BAKERS TO BREAD ENGINEERS?
I am accused all the time for not listening! But if I listen to YOU, gluten suffers.
Bread is like our body, gluten is like our muscles. When we work out, we need time to relax our muscles. When we strengthen the gluten, we need time to let it break down again. Preparing and breaking down before turning dough to bread is crucial for digestion. Complex protein (gluten) will strain our gut.
Manufacturers of machines for bakers and bread additives companies know all kinds of “so-called” problems YOU face with bread as YOU advance in life. And is in human-nature to advance. BUT BREAD IS NOT HUMAN, BREAD IS NATURE!
If you go back to social history about bread and understand the things we have built to construct our bread today, I don’t think gluten is the culprit villain, I think bakers are! AND YOU ARE TOO!
Beware what you ask from a baker.
Call me a medium if you like, and this is what I “hear from bread” : “you disrespect me all these centuries after your wars and industrialisation and modernisation. YOU alter my nature to fit in your life. As a bread, I can’t talk, so I manifest by making you sick.”
Baker Lee Kok Seng talks to Aneeta Sundararaj about his mission to revive the old ways of making bread
THE next time you’re in a bakery, consider the ingredients used to make the loaf of bread you’re buying. Other than the basic flour and water, you may also find they include things such as emulsifiers, dough conditioners and other chemicals.
You won’t find such ingredients in breads made by Tommy Lee Kok Seng. “My passion is to nurture flour and fermentation,” says this 38-year-old baker, who is passionate about all things French. With absolute certainty, he adds: “Wheat flour has chosen me to speak on its behalf.”
Trained as a pastry chef, Lee has no plans to open a bakery. In fact, he used to work for a company that did troubleshooting for industrial bakers and he sold the very ingredients he now refuses to use. Then, fate intervened. During the time he took unpaid leave to look after his terminally ill father, he had time to ponder his career. “I was tired of eating bread that was rich in sugars and oils. I wanted to eat bread like how it was before.”
Lee also wondered about people’s resistance towards bread. “I couldn’t understand it. We have been eating bread for so long. Suddenly, you have to have gluten-free bread and other things like that. Where did people get all these allergies from?”
He carried out extensive research on bread making and the various ingredients used. “The main culprits are bakers. They don’t allow time for the fermentation process,” he says on his findings.
“One day, while on a bus, I chanced upon an Indian flour mill. There I found wheat flour, which the Indians call atta flour. And they grind the wheat using a stone mill. This means that not too much heat is used to grind the wheat into flour.” With a twinkle in his eye, he says: “I found gold.”
Lee brought two kilogrammes of this unprocessed wheat flour home and started his experiments. Bread making, he says involves the process of fermenting grain using yeast. Fermentation releases sugars trapped in complex starch molecules and also aids in the creation of gluten. The process determines the quality and texture of a bread.
“When I saw that I could use things around my neighbourhood to create great bread, I realised that this was something that I wanted to do,” says Lee. By November 2010, he located a space in Viva Residence, off Jalan Ipoh, and opened his bakery, Tommy Le Baker. He offered four bread varieties (baguettes, sour dough, bran loaf and rye bread), a tart and a banana loaf.
“I had a lot of problems in the beginning,” he says, drawing on his cigarette. “Nobody in the family understood why I was doing it. The management of this building wanted a layout plan. They asked me what the concept was.” Shaking his head, he adds: “I had nothing of such. I just wanted my own space.”
Lee’s life history makes it obvious, though. This is a man who will not shy away from doing something just because it’s difficult or challenging. After completing his schooling in Singapore, he chose to pursue an Advanced Diploma in French Linguistics.
“I studied Language, Rhetoric and French Business. Rhetoric was very hard because I didn’t know what it was. But I wanted to do it. If I have a choice between studying something I know and don’t know, I’ll choose what I don’t know.
Then, when what I don’t know is on par with what I know, I’ll have a choice. And having a choice is power. Rhetoric is the art of substantiating arguments. Don’t simply say something. If you want to say, make sure you have something to substantiate what you say.”
Giving Tommy Le Baker a sweeping glance, this marathon runner says: “This is my workshop for fermentation. It’s an orderly mess.” Above the sounds coming from the radio, which is tuned to the French channel France Bleu Basse Normandie, he adds: “It’s quaint and tiny. It’s where I can do my own thing.”
Asked what’s the first thing Lee associates with France, his answer is a simple: “Starving”.
It wasn’t because the couple he was staying with didn’t feed him. In fact, he joined them for dinner each day. However, for a Chinese man who grew up accustomed to eating rice and noodles, he thought that each meal in France consisted of only salad and meat, and ignored the bread. Then, he wondered how people could eat bread for dinner and ended up secretly stashing away biscuits in his room.
“Then, one day,” says Lee “at the end of the meal, my host said ‘dessert’. But she said it as though she was asking a question. It hit me that dessert is an option and everything else on the table such as meat, salad and of course, bread was a necessity.”
This newfound respect and belief that bread is a necessity permeates every facet of his life, down to the layout of his bakery: “See, the bread part is in front. The pastries and cakes are on the left, hidden a bit.” Lee is emphatic when he adds: “It’s as though the bread is saying, ‘Don’t worry. You eat me every day. I make you strong, but you don’t have to notice me.’ So, I’m going to bring bread back to the front.”
For those who have doubts on Lee’s seriousness in championing the process of fermentation, here is his explanation: “I like to think that I’ve brought together all the elements to make a bread. Now, I have to give them time before I intervene and take them to another level. I imagine what’s happening inside the dough. There’s the mummy yeast and the papa yeast. They need time to ‘make love’ and make babies. If I increase the heat they will make too many babies who are agitated. If it’s too cold, they are just stiff. So, I need to give them the ideal environment to create beautiful children.”
While that explanation may border on the absurd, Lee says: “Don’t laugh. Sometimes, when I tell people about fermentation and I used words such as enzymes and starch, they give me a blur look. When I use this, with love and sex, they get it.”
Lee message is clear: “I believe that we should respect what nature gives us. I think of what I’m doing as more mission work than business. We should nurture what nature gives us, revive the process of making bread and elevate its nutritional value.”
走近Tommy le Baker，就听到旋律轻快的法国香颂，在欧洲个店风格的务实空间琉淌。门前有个小橱柜，上半是玻璃柜子，里面塞满大块头的面包，下半钉了镬薄木片，木片上贴了手写字条和法国电影节的海报。 另一侧有一个较小的橱柜，里面有合桃塔、柠檬塔、香蕉杏仁奶油塔等四五款点心，还有两三种芝士。
这家面包店里，没有满坑满谷的面包，更看不到外表花俏的松软系面包，算来算去，面包大约有6款，有修长的法国棍子面包(Baguette)，做成三文治面 包模样的诺曼地面包和麦糠面包，以及憨厚黝黑的乡村面包(Pain de Campagne sur Levain)和圆滚滚的农夫面包(Pain au Levain Natural)。它们长得很纯朴，看起来都硬硬的，掰开面包，扑鼻而来的是淡淡单纯麦香。面包上面沾了白色面粉，客人选了面包后，店员会拿刷子用力刷两 下，把面粉刷掉，再用一张带点透明的薄纸包起来，装在淡褐色纸袋里。 前面是门市，后面则是厨房，大袋面粉叠放在地上，再过去是打面团的搅拌机，靠墙站立的是巨形烤箱。另一端则有面包师的工作台，台下装了柜子，是让面团自然发酵的地方。 Tommy忙了半天，正坐在面包橱柜后吃面，于是我要了咖啡，到走廊上吹风透气。外面艳阳高照，店里却没有开冷气，一团热空气闷在里面，让人怪难受的。我 知道我不应该有怨言，因为这里是手工面包店，是传统欧式面包诞生的地方，而自然发酵中的面包，她们最喜欢温暖无风的环境了！
外国社群，打打交道，但他不知哪来一股牛劲，一口拒绝。“我说，我只想做面包，不想去做那些琐碎的事，也不去想有没有人来 买我的面包。如果我一直在想有没有人买面包，我就不会开店了！” 开店不久，一个土耳其人上门了，他问了一句话：你的面包有没有下糖？Tommy答说没有，对方买了面包就走。不久，这位土耳其人又再回来买面包，“那一刻，我就知道我做对了！” 人家开店，都喜欢做些漂亮又吸睛的甜点，吸引顾客上门，但他却道：“甜点永远只是一个选择，如果我以甜点为主，那就本末倒置了！” 他也不凑热闹，卖时下流行的法式甜点如马卡龙，他叹口气道：“巴黎人现在迷上了和风式的法式甜点，法国人变样。” 捱了几年，知道Tommy Le Baker 面包店的人渐渐多了，也有美食博客称他是“城中三大面包师之一”。对此，他只是淡淡微笑，说道：“我听了就算，不会在意，反而还有点不放心。为什么要比较？为什么你们不去了解什么是酸味酵头？那个更重要。” 他希望人们不要把手工面包看成是一种流行新风尚，他只想反璞归真，告诉人们什么才是真的面包，真的食物。 小店里，到处贴有Tommy的手写文字，一些是法文，大部分是英文。冰箱上有一段，写的是他复兴传统手工面包的理念，上面又有一张褐色纸皮，洋洋洒洒写了 很长，读了颇令人动容————手工面包是把我们拥有的发挥到极致、是感恩泥土上长出来的一切……我们买得起的东西太多太多了，但只有手作，可以让我们充满 生气，让我们感受人性，从复杂到简单，从花俏回归平淡，这样的味觉经验，是自我美食经验成长的一大步。