Growing up in Asia, I never quite got into the idea of bread. Our staple is rice and our consumption of bread is usually limited to breakfast or tea time. Afterall, when you could have wanton noodles, why would you want to have bread? On the other hand, one of my fond memories of growing up in Singapore in the 80s is the extremely soft white bread spreads with Planta butter and kaya by the local old man in white tee and a push bike with a box at the back. This bread is soft, light and fluffy, nothing dense like the breads in Australia nor London.
Having lived in Australia for a good ten years and being a poor student, I have done quite a few sandwiches for lunch with the usual ham and cheese. The dryness of bread usually gets me gagging and it isn’t the tastiest thing around when I am dreaming of prawn noodles. Of course, when you get a chance to have a sumptuous breakfast with poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, the good ole’ toasted bread with butter is the perfect accompaniment.
The day of revelation came when I first tried Irrewarra Sourdough in Australia.
Have you ever had bread and thought that it is the BEST bread you ever had in your life? Irrewarra sourdough was it. Priced at AUD$6 a loaf, it does not come cheap as compared to your usual loaf of $3 wholemeal sliced bread from the supermarket. I do assure you that it makes your sandwiches more delicious than ever. It is wholesome and tastes perfect.
Having moved to London Jun 2011, I have been trying all sorts of breads but haven’t come across anything that good. Just three weekends ago, I was catching up on twitter and saw a photo of St John’s Bakery baked goods and boy, I was intrigued. Within an hour, I was on my way to St John’s Bakery somewhere in SE1, Arch 72. My main aim was to try and see if I could get my hands on some hot cross buns, given that it was just a week before Easter.
When I got there, there was a small crowd and though there weren’t any hot cross buns in sight, I dived straight into the custard buns (recommended by The Skinny Bib) and as the baked goods looked way too good, I couldn’t resist getting a brown sourdough loaf as well.
The custard bun was coated with sugar and when I bit into it, the vanilla bean custard was light and absolutely delicious. The bun was perfect and the custard oozed out when I took the first bite. I spent a good time licking the delicious creamy custard. My recommendation is if you ever get yourself out to St John’s bakery on a Saturday, be sure to get your hands on one. I hear they go pretty fast!
As for the brown sourdough loaf, I didn’t try it until the next day when we prepared poached eggs on toast. When the dude (my other half) was cutting the slices, he was quite impressed with the density of the bread. In fact, we were pretty sure that we found an equivalent to our favourite bread in Australia. The dense brown sourdough tasted perfect with a good dollop of butter and poached eggs. We felt like we could do quality breakfast at home instead of out at a good brunch place. For £4 a loaf, it went the distance and we couldn’t quite get enough of this bread!
St John’s Bakery (Open Saturdays only!)