What have you been doing during the Circuit Breaker? I admit I spent a lot of time on social media, but it’s there that I started discovering the hidden talents of my friends. One of these friends is Dee; I know her through the media industry in her capacity doing Public Relations, and now… she’s one of those home bakers but far from a cliche (that would be me). While I bake the occasional brownie or muffin (that ended up solid like a rock), Dee has been producing the prettiest breads that remind me of Van Gogh paintings. She started baking because she wanted to share food with the foreign workers doing construction in her building; and she wanted to give them food that was healthy, tasty and could last. And that small gesture expanded into really fancy bread. Here’s her story.
Your creations look amazing. What are you actually baking?
Three things that I love to bake at this point: Bread, Loaf Cakes and Cookies.
Bread: Sourdough Focaccia (which is a loaf).
Loaf cakes: mainly Lemon drizzle cake and Raspberry Lemon Loaf Cake.
Cookies: Chunky Cookies or New York-Style Cookies — these are huge chunky cookies that are crispy on the outside and soft in the centre (Chocolate Chip Walnut, Triple Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Oatmeal & Raisins, Birthday Cake, Matchadamia, and Raspberry White Chocolate.
How did you start baking these delightful-looking breads?
I started learning to bake in December for fun, but really began to bake up a storm during the Circuit Breaker — so you can call me the Circuit Baker. I baked all sorts but in the end I narrowed down to these three items and I do that day after day; I’ve baked like one focaccia a day for more than a month now. After all, practice makes perfect.
I love making focaccia, as it’s such an easy bake, so I challenged myself by making a sourdough version, since I have the starter and I’m experimenting baking sourdough loaves (those are a passion project but not on my menu yet) — then I thought, why not make it pretty? For me the taste comes first, the design second. I am adopting a “no waste” culture so I basically see what’s in my box (fridge) to use for the toppings. I started with simple items like garlic, rosemary and tomatoes, then I added on bell peppers, olives, purple cabbage, Ginger Torch flower or rojak flowers.
Is this a hobby or a full time job?
Hobby and a side hustle for now.
What’s on them? Where do you get your ingredients from?
I love going to the wet market, that’s where I discovered different types of seasonal vegetables. I drizzle very generously garlic confit made of herbs from my garden, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Depending on what’s available in the market, I use a lot of bell peppers. I’ve discovered purple (almost black) bell peppers, trio coloured bell peppers (very lucky, as they are not fully transformed to green yet) and recently white bell peppers, which are all very pretty. Purple onions, radish, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, chive flowers, Ginger Torch flower, purple cabbage, sometimes corn and cheese (upon request or for kids) and Toasted white sesame (not everything at once…) 😊
For the coloured breads, ( I do beetroot and purple corn flavoured ), I use mushrooms for contrast. Herbs don’t pop up as nice, but I still use them, as I said, taste is number one for me and it’s always good aromatics for the bread.
The herbs from my garden include dill, rosemary, cuban oregano, oregano, thyme, basil and also sometimes, curry leaves (yes curry, it smells heavenly).
They look extremely healthy. Are they?
Yes, sourdough is better than commercial yeast. It’s easier to digest and less likely to spike your sugar levels. The fermentation process depresses the gluten. I try to be as natural as possible, usually using whole foods, vegetables and herbs, and extra virgin olive oil.
Honest answer. Do they taste good?
Yes, they are delicious! 😊 I don’t sell anything I don’t enjoy eating. And especially when it’s fresh and hot. I bake it fresh every day for orders, usually around 10am onwards (dough takes about 12 hours, so I have to bake it in the morning). The best time to collect and to eat it is within hours. It’s still good the next day but from the second night onwards, it’s best to refrigerate it. I have friends and customers who fridge or freeze it, then they take it out to toast lightly. Eat with butter, olive oil or on its own — it’s good on its own.
Are you selling your work? If so, how to buy?
Online only via Instagram, or friends and referrals text direct. I may add in an online Google form soon. Prices start from $25 onwards. It’s $25 for omakase (if you leave it to me, just tell me what you don’t eat). Flavoured or coloured ones are $30 (beetroot, purple corn), and extra toppings like mushrooms and Parmesan cheese will have extra charges.
which ones are most popular?
Sunflowers! Usually the customers, leave it up to me. I’ve made a candy skull one and smily face, called John Dough. Also, beetroot and purple corn flavoured (the coloured ones) are popular too.
For cookies — it’s the Triple Chocolate Chip cookies. Lemon Drizzle cake is also a crowd favourite for people who are not bread lovers. I give options, but now my orders are mixed, focaccia + cookies, or foccacia with Lemon drizzle cake. Something for everyone. Or just pure cookie orders! I once had an impromptu order for cookies only. She ordered 30 and my cookies are 100g each.
Which one is your favourite to make and to eat?
All of them! They may look the same, but no one loaf is the same — I can’t replicate it. Sometimes, the bubbles come into play on the loaf, with bubbles or indent and that changes how the loaf looks; I call it my ASMR fix, I love the close up of these.
Final notes on your baking…
My belief is using real whole foods and good quality ingredients for all my bakes. Chocolate are artisan, real butter, cage free eggs, Valrhona cocoa powder, good EVOO… And the cakes and cookies are reduced in sugar. Fresh fruits are also used. I use the zest of lemons and lemon juice for the drizzle. Real raspberries for the cake and freeze-dried whole organic raspberries for the cookies. So it makes your cheat day worth it! You get real good quality, decadent stuff.
Check out Dee’s creations and place orders through her Instagram account @doughmestic_bliss.