Posts Tagged ‘BITC’

Focaccia Bread Loaf Style

Who would have known that I would enjoy bread baking so much? I know I might have once mentioned that Bread was not sexy. Well I’ll have to eat my words, haven’t I. Or can I substitute the words with bread?

It’s not that easy to make perfect bread at home. I know lots of people do it to great success. What I’m saying is that it is far easier to make bread in a commercial setting, where the ovens are huge and come with steam injection functions. Then there’s the stand up proofer or the large tables for you to knead to your heart’s content. Nevertheless, you make do and it’s definitely worth the effort.

Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been baking loaves of baguettes. I don’t have a Pullman tin yet so I can’t make sandwich bread and actually, I much prefer the taste of a well-made baguette! Absolutely love the crispy crust and the soft insides. Smear a little salted butter and you’re instantly in heaven. I henceforth proclaim Bread as simple yet seductive!

A few months back, a colleague from work gave me this wonderful cookbook Dinner with The Baker. At that time, I marvelled at the pictures but privately lamented the difficulty in making the sweet treats. I’m glad to say that after 3 months of intensive baking classes, when I flipped the book a few days ago, I could say “yep, I know how to do this, and this as well, and that”. Perfecting them is another story, but at least they don’t seem so daunting!

In any case, the 1st recipe I tried out was the Focaccia Bread. Interestingly, we never did cover Focaccia Bread in Baking School. I wonder why, considering it’s so popular in Singapore! The dough was ultra sticky for me, thanks to the amount of oil used. I don’t know if it ought to be this sticky, but the Focaccia turned out fine.

Focaccia Bread Loaf Style

If this doesn’t look like Focaccia to you, that’s because it’s in a loaf shape and not flat and rectangular like it usually is. The recipe book calls for putting the dough in a flat pan, but it being 12 midnight the 1st time I did it, I absentmindedly put it into a loaf tin like how I usually do at school! Anyway nobody ever said that Focaccia cannot be loaf shape right????

Speaking of shape, I think there’s much to be improved. The edges are rounded, instead of the angular look of a sandwich bread. I guess it’s due to the amount of oil used. Also, the break and shred is totally uneven. Most importantly, and the bane of all my breads so far, are the idiotic tiny round spots on the crust! I think they’re tiny pockets of air but what can I do to get rid of them? They don’t seem to affect the taste though, and the crust is still crisp.

Anyway, if you want the recipe for the Focaccia loaf style, just scroll down….

Focaccia Bread Loaf Style Sliced Focaccia bread disguised as open-top bread. Tee hee hee….

Recipe (Adapted from Dinner with The Baker cookbook by Pino Locantro. OMG the book even has a Facebook page)

500g    Bread Flour

6g        Dry Yeast

Pinch Oregano (if desired)

10g      Salt

300g    Cold Water

50g      Olive Oil

1          Egg


Work Process :

1. Using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix flour, yeast, oregano and salt.

2. Slowly add oil, egg and water and continue mixing until well combined. Increase speed of your mixer and mix the dough until it looks smooth. The book says to mix until shiny and smooth, but I never did mix it till the shiny stage.

3. The dough may be sticky so dust some flour on your hands and board to help you.

4. Rest the dough for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Keep it covered and in a cool area.

5. After 1 hour, heavily oil a baking tray. Deflate the dough to remove air bubbles and roll the dough to fit the tray. Or you could cut the dough into 4 pieces and make 4 small loaves of Focaccia, just like I did.

6. Proof in a warm area for about 1 hr or until it has doubled in size again.

7. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt if desired. I omitted this step totally.

8. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees celcius for the flat Focaccia, and 30 minutes at 200 degrees celcius for the loaf Focaccia.

9. Remove from tray/tin immediately and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!!!

Baking Industry Training Centre – Bread Class Part 1

I told my Bread Chef that I’d write something about the Bread Class. That was 2 weeks ago. The post is still pending, no thanks to the 326 photos I took during the class itself. Ploughing through them would probably take longer than making a sponge and dough bread. But a promise is a promise, so I guess I’ll post some pictures of our beloved Bread Chef first. And also to check if anyone else in the school is reading this…..

BITC Bread Chef (5)

This is our hardworking Bread Chef Mr Lim. Hardworking because he has to constantly watch over all our products, lest they burn, deflate, over proof, over beat or get themselves into some calamitous situation.

BITC Bread Chef (6)

He has to cook curry for us (okay for the curry buns), cuz I mean we don’t know how to cook curry right? This is a baking class wat.

BITC Bread Chef

He even has to slice our cinnamon buns for us because we are busy taking photos. 🙂

BITC Bread Chef (2)

But it’s pay back time during the exams lah. This was taken during our mid-term bread practical exam. Mr Lim is giving me the WTF, can you be serious for once, your bread sux look.

BITC Bread Chef (3)

Calm before the storm….

BITC Bread Chef (4)

Oh oooo…he spotted an error. So much for the smiley face on the bun. Didn’t fool him.

To be continued……

To read more about my baking school exploits, click here.

Baking Industry Training Centre – Part 2

How time flies! I’ve already completed my cake module and I’m on to the bread making module of my baking course. Now that I am able to look back at the entire cake baking module, I find it incredulous that I am now able to bake cakes the likes of what you see at BreadTalk and Benganwan Solo. Serious!

Baking Industry Training Centre - Bavarian cakes with various designs Do these cakes not look at home in a cake shop?

Quite a number of the cakes that were taught, I thought were a bit outdated. For example, do you know what a Bavarian Cake is? I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of it, let alone seen it at any of our bakeries. It’s more than a hundred years old! Also, Birthday Cakes with lots of piped cream and cream rosettes are pretty old fashioned if you ask me. Baking Industry Training Centre (BITC) teaches lots of recipes for cakes that you would still be able to find at your local bakery, but the more modern cakes would be those that you find at say Canele for example. Still, there’s no denying that I’ve obtained the skills and the confidence to go create whatever I desire, and that I think is the most important thing.

Baking Industry Training Centre - Mango and Strawberry Bavarian Cake This is a Bavarian Cake. So are the ones in the picture above.

Fortunately, I managed to learn how to make my most favourite cake of all time in the class. The Sacher Torte! I have been lusting after this cake for the longest time, ever since I learnt of its existence in German class a number of years ago. I don’t think you can find the Sacher Torte in Singapore! One of my favourite chefs taught us how to do it and speaking of him, I have to label him a Cake Whiz. He slices cakes at the speed of lightning, it’s just amazing to even watch it. Literally everyone in the class was speechless just watching him churn out those slices like a human cake slicing machine. And I’m not talking about slicing a cake vertically mind you, I’m talking about horizontal. It may sound easy but just you try and see. It’s too bad we only had half a lesson with Mr Cake Whiz. Wish we could have more.

Baking Industry Training Centre - Sacher Torte My beloved Sachertorte. It was heart breaking to have to give it all away as without preservatives, the cakes spoil within 3 days.

Baking Industry Training Centre - (12)Another picture of the Sachertorte. I took it home so that I could take a picture in natural lighting. The metal table benches in class do not make for nice photos.

I was a nervous wreck during the practical exam on the last day! Couldn’t sleep until 4am, which obviously made things much worse! I don’t know why I got so nervous about the exam. It’s not like I think I would fail, cuz it takes quite some effort to fail! I suppose it’s the thought of finding out you mis-measured something and having to redo all over again. If you’ve taken Chemistry practical exams, you’d know the feeling. And I suppose I just want to score better than my 2 best pals in the class! HEH!

Baking Industry Training Centre - My exam cakes (Bavarian and Birthday Cake)

Look at the atrocious handwriting I produced for my exam cake! It’s an embarrassment! Why did the piping bag have to clog up only during the exam?! Cake on the right was another Bavarian I produced for the exam. While it looks pleasant, I feel that Maraschino cherries on cakes are so dated!

Anyway, I’m on to the Bread module now and today was the 3rd day of class. I just have one statement to make so far : BREAD IS BORING, CAKE IS SEXIER!

Ok lah, it’s early days yet and I’ll probably get more interested when we get down to doing the sweet breads and continental breads. But for the whole of this week, we are just making plain white bread, using different methods! Yesterday it was plain bread using a rapid dough system. Today it was plain bread using the bulk fermentation system. And tomorrow, it will be plain bread using the sponge and dough method! EEEEK! And for the entire day’s effort, I am rewarded with 3 lovely PLAIN LOAVES OF BREAD, that cost what, $6 if I were to buy Gardenia or Sunshine? At this moment, it’s a far cry from the delicious and pretty cakes I made each day. A day’s worth of effort would have gotten me at least one $30 cake!

The effort required is lesser than in cake class though, and the difficulty is lower. I find myself sitting around quite a bit and the chef even told my partner and I to slow down! A far cry from the rush rush rush of cake class. For a home baker, this week’s worth of lessons (and money spent on paying for these lessons!!) is pretty useless. One would never be able to have a roller machine in one’s house so assuming you don’t have spare $ to spend on frivolous lessons, what is the use of learning about it? As I mentioned in my previous post, Baking Industry Training Centre trains bakers for commercial kitchens, hence you just have to go through this part of the lesson if you want BITC’s cert!

All that being said, I don’t regret taking up the bread baking class as bread is a staple, and how can I say that I know how to bake, if I can’t even bake a simple loaf of bread?

Baking Industry Training Centre - Plain loaves of bread

Bread is SO NOT SEXY. Enuff said.

Read about my 1st few days at BITC Cake Class.

Baking Industry Training Centre Pte Ltd (BITC)
201 Keppel Road, Level 11 Annexe Block
Singapore 099419

Telephone:+65 6276 6337

Fax:+65 6276 6608

Operation Hours

Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm

Saturday 8:30am – 12:30pm

Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays

Cake Baking at Baking Industry Training Centre

Being an ardent fan of the cafe culture, I am often smitten by the pretty and delicious cakes and pastries on display at the various cafes in Singapore. When I see those mouth watering creations, not only do I want to eat them, I want to replicate them myself! Watching Nigella, Hugh Fearnley and Anna Olsen churning out sweet treat after sweet treat on the Food Network makes my heart pound with envy. Their cakes look so decadent yet my creations look fit for the dustbin.

They say baking is like Chemistry lessons. Follow the recipe accurately and you won’t go wrong. The problem is, the recipes often aren’t very clear. I mean like what the hell is cream until light and fluffy? How should I know exactly how light and exactly how fluffy? Would that be 5 minutes of creaming, or is it 8? One issue I used to have is that my cakes invariably turn out rather dense. Was it because I reduced the sugar and the butter, which resulted in the flour ratio being higher? Or was it due to the under-creaming? Or was it due to the curdled mess that I get every time I add eggs to the batter? No idea.

Push came to shove, I finally signed up for baking lessons this year. Which is the best place to learn baking in Singapore? After scouring the net for reputable baking classes to attend, I discovered the names of a few big players

  1. At Sunrice GlobalChef Academy
  2. Creative Culinaire
  3. Baking Industry Training Centre

There are others but they mostly focus on short courses. These 3 baking schools above provide in-depth basic to advanced levels of baking knowledge, ranging from cake making, to bread making to pastry making. And each of these 3 schools have their advantages and disadvantages.

At Sunrice is good because it is tied up with WDA and you can get up to 90% subsidy if you take the diploma classes. Of course, you must want to do a full fledged diploma in order to enjoy that huge discount.

Creative Culinaire is expensive, but I hear lessons are mostly taught by the owner of the school Judy Koh. I have also taken one of her baking workshops and I found her to be very good and detailed. She holds several diplomas, one of which is from the Culinary Institute of America.

Baking Industry Training Centre or BITC is the cheapest of the lot so guess what? I signed up with BITC. Okay another huge reason was because I wanted to get started ASAP, ride on the momentum you know, and they had something starting in January 2012, so I hopped on board.

BITC also has its pros and cons. As I mentioned, without a subsidy, BITC is the cheapest. However, BITC is also very “no-frills”, to the extent whereby you have to bring your own spoons, spatulas and knives. You will have those handy because you will be required to pay for a toolbox costing $150. BITC also happens to be a place where lots of people come here to learn how to become a baker. So classes are catered to teaching students how to operate in commercial kitchens and not the home kitchen. The pace is also pretty slow so as to cater to all skill levels. If you want a job as a baker, a BITC cert will allow you to do so.

Have you ever heard of sponge gel and emulsifiers? These are ingredients that will be used at BITC. These ingredients go into the cheap cakes you buy from the cheap bakeries as putting those ingredients into the cake actually makes the cake soft, fluffy and idiot proof to make. If you’re concerned about putting margarine or palm oil in your cake as compared to pure butter, it will be a shock to the system when you see yourself using them anyway because you obviously can’t just sit there and twiddle your thumbs. Oh and lastly, you can only bring home half of whatever you make.

Despite all my misgivings about BITC, I think I still had fun learning all about cake baking. I have never made so many cakes in my life in such a short span of time. And the best part is, everyone loves my cakes! Sure there are areas to improve on, but it has been such a vast improvement from what I used to churn out that I’m already very satisfied with the results. Hey my grandmother asks for my cakes everyday. That’s proof of the pudding isn’t it?

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (7)

Where else can you find a 365days2play brownie?

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (12)

These are the cakes we made for our mid term exams. Mine is the second column from the left, with the exception of the chiffon cake. I baked the chiffon on the right, but I unmoulded someone else’s cake by mistake. Darn, and the unmoulding was quite good if I say so myself. Look at the wreck on the right!

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (10)

My masterpieces…

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (18)

Pandan Chiffon on the left. Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting and marzipan carrots.

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (19)

Tiger skin. I have never heard of tiger skin before until the class, and whaddya know, I saw it at the shops a few days later.

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (8)

Gugelhoph. The best tasting cake I’ve made to date. Love the nutty flavours!

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (17)

There you go, the infamous sponge gel. Just the sight of that neon orange colour puts me off. Plus it’s so sticky and oily! Urgh! I don’t know who on earth invented this, but the bakers love it as it makes their job easy. You can buy sponge gel from Phoon Huat. Why you’d want to, I don’t know.

Baking Industry Training Centre Pte Ltd (BITC)
201 Keppel Road, Level 11 Annexe Block
Singapore 099419

Telephone:+65 6276 6337

Fax:+65 6276 6608

Operation Hours

Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm

Saturday 8:30am – 12:30pm

Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays

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