Gontran was in town last weekend and I had a chance to meet Parisian bread maestro, Gontran Cherrier, the man behind Singapore’s well-loved croissant; No, I meant Tiong Bahru Bakery. Their croissants are comparable to the ones sold in Paris or maybe even way better and now, I have another new favourite at their cafe – Kouign Amann, a sweet traditional Breton pastry originating from Brittany in France. It’s this round, flaky and crusty caramelized bread with butter and sugar folded and twirled into the layers of bread dough. It’s so distinctly well-made and delicious at the same time that it has become another signature bread at Tiong Bahru Bakery.
I had my first virgin Kouign Amann experience when they sent this crusty pastry along with an invitation card to attend a bread-pairing and tasting session with Gontran at their Eng Hoon Outlet.
Tiong Bahru Bakery’s first outlet is tucked right in the corners of the neighbourhood at Tiong Bahru, right among the many hip cafes and local coffeeshops found within the vicinity. It looks, taste and sounds pretty much like any other boulangeries in France but with hints of our local culture – just look at its name. I would have thought that this bakery-cafe is a start-up by a local entrepreneur who’s Dad is a baker working at Tiong Bahru for almost his whole life.
Well, on a beautiful contrary, it’s owned by an Ang Moh from France. A rather well-known artisan boulanger and creative baker who has his own bakeries across three countries, in Paris, Tokyo and Singapore. This little nut of information would perhaps have already piqued your interest to drop by for some coffee and croissant, right? Well, it did, for me.
That night was special as Gontran Cherrier himself shared with us how he pair his bread with different ingredients. He also creatively paired some of our local ingredients with his signature breads like Rye and red miso and Brioche.
A spread of ingredients and toppings which Gontran so cleverly paired with the different ingredients laid on the table.
I actually never knew that his bread creations were all baked to perfection, especially the rye and red miso bread that smells so lovely.
The peeps from the media were also tasked to suggest local ingredients which we would like Gontran himself to feature in his bakes. I chose mangosteen because it’s my all-time favourite fruit that brings back alot of childhood memories whenever I eat it. Though it might be challenging to bake a mangosteen bread or mangosteen croissant so to speak.
Some nibbles to fill our stomachs. This berry crumble is so heavenly!
Thank goodness it’s vegetarian.
So Gontran didn’t exactly has a messy hairdo with this long fringe swept across his face. He, very much, look like a regular french guy in his polo tee and jeans. He appeared to be very approachable and warm indeed.
We tried several bread pairings and I must say that it’s no different from wine pairings or cheese pairings. But I really like Gontran’s theory of bread pairing because it’s rather simple and easy to gasp – sharp tasting ingredients goes well with breads that has a strong and distinct character or aroma like rye bread while mild and sweet ingredients pairs well with soft classic breads like brioche or cereal white bread. I use to think the opposite but this theory and explanations work out to be true.
So right after the session, we each walked away with a loaf of fresh bakes from Tiong Bahru Bakery and I got the rye and red miso bread which I couldn’t wait to slice my knife through.
I paired this lovely bread with some bruschetta and on a separate occasion, I got creative and I paired it with some vegan banana-only ice cream. Gosh, who knew that this bread could actually be paired with something sweet like frozen bananas?
Check out my other healthy recipe creations on Instagram!