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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New sourdough bakery promises home delivery

Business partners Michael Foidl and Zita Long
Business partners Michael Foidl and Zita Long Miranda Glasser

New sourdough bakery promises home delivery

Ever woken up with an empty fridge and an even emptier stomach, wishing someone would bring you breakfast? That dream looks set to become a reality with the imminent opening of Bäckerei, the new speciality sourdough bakery run by expats Zita Long and Michael Foidl.

Placing the utmost emphasis on natural, organic ingredients, the online bakery will deliver breads, pretzels and even cold meats and cheeses to customers doors, everything that might be needed for a continental breakfast.

Khmer-Canadian self-confessed bread aficionado Zita Long started experimenting with baking a couple of years ago, having moved from Ontario to Siem Reap.

“I got really into sourdough baking,” he says. “Initially it was pastries but I found that bread fits my personality more. Bread’s something that takes a long time, you have to have patience. It’s more scientific, a bit mathematical."

“With cooking, if something’s lacking you just add it at the end but with bread everything has to be quite exact. And then you have to factor in temperature, humidity, even altitude affects how the dough works.”

Pumpkin seed, sesame seed, poppy seed and caraway seed Brötchen, or German bread rolls.
Pumpkin seed, sesame seed, poppy seed and caraway seed Brötchen, or German bread rolls. ZITA LONG

Long says he tried out a different loaf every week, experimenting with his own recipes and developing his technique. He chose sourdough because he found any other breads would bring him out in a rash.

Eventually his path crossed with German chef Michael Foidl, who also owns Siem Reap Sandwiches and Siem Reap BBQ, and the pair decided to open a “Deutsch-Asian bakery.”

“He was into food, I was into food so it seemed quite natural that we would work together,” says Long. “It’s perfect actually – his background’s F&B and me, I just want to bake.”

Over the last few months Long has been perfecting his products which include loaves such as cashew nut sourdough and mixed nut sourdough, brötchen (German bread rolls) and pretzels – the latter not available anywhere else in Siem Reap. He uses only unbleached flour and food-grade lye, while avoiding unhealthy ingredients such as refined white sugar, trans-fats and additives. Some of the ingredients have to be imported, and at present the duo are waiting for a delivery of flour from Germany.

Long says sourdough is actually much healthier than ‘normal’ yeast bread.

“With yeast bread it’s just yeast that’s making the dough rise,” he says. “With sourdough there’s also bacteria which gives sourdough a very distinct tangy flavour. When these two are working together they actually break down gluten and other chemical constituencies into something that’s more digestible.”

Long says it typically takes around a day to create the perfect loaf, allowing the dough to ferment for over 12 hours at cool temperatures for the flavour to fully develop.

Sliced sourdough in all its glory.
Sliced sourdough in all its glory. ZITA LONG

“Sourdough rises much more slowly, but this is a good thing. You want it to rise slowly so the bacteria and yeast can break down gluten and other things to release vitamins and minerals. It’s pretty much a health-food compared to commercially, mass-produced bread.”

Although Bäckerei will be a purely online business, it plans to deliver to hotels – many of whom have already expressed an interest – and individual customers.

“I like the idea of delivering fresh bread to peoples’ homes,” says Foidl. “And not only bread – later on we want to deliver sausages, cold cuts, cheeses and yoghurt. Actually everything you need for breakfast. Say on a Sunday morning, you just go on the website, place an order and we will deliver it to you so you don’t have to leave the house. And you get everything fresh.”

The cold cuts and cheeses will be supplied by L’Oasi, while the sausages will be imported. There’s also a plan to sell marinaded olives and feta cheese in the future.

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