It was not that long ago that sourdough bread was fairly exotic. Fast-forward to the present and new bakeries are turning out freshly baked sourdough bread to appreciative customers. The flavour of sourdough bread is due to lactic acid from the fermentation of dough by lactobacilli and yeast from a “starter”, as compared with regular bread, which ferments from the addition of baker’s yeast.
Besides its doughier texture, sourdough has a lower glycemic index (GI) than white bread. There are many variables in producing a loaf of sourdough bread as the differences between the products of the following bakeries — all of which are doing takeaways now — will attest.
Yin’s Sourdough Bakery and Café
The restaurant, large and airy with wood-topped tables, has a large menu with pastas, soups, sourdough pizzas, healthy bowls, sandwiches and breakfasts. Kefir and kombuchas round off the beverage menu besides juices, smoothies, coffees and teas. Yin’s — founded by Penangite Chan Su Yin in her hometown — cures its own salmon, makes its own kefir, kombuchas, luncheon meat, sausages, kaya and spreads, and roasts its own coffee.
The “Fermentation Lab” behind a glass partition at the back of the restaurant turns out fresh loaves of bread for sale.
The sandwiches are well turned out. The In-House Cured Salmon Sandwich (RM24), with salmon and avocado on lightly toasted sourdough bread, is served with a side salad and a tomato paste for a satisfying sandwich that is well-balanced, wholesome and handsome.
The variety of food, ambience and wholesome goodness proposition make Yin’s ideal for everyone, young and old. The bread is light and porous with a thin crust and a neutral flavour that lends itself well to being toasted. It is so mild and soft-textured that you would be hard-pressed to say it is sourdough. If it were music, it would be popular, middle-of-the-road fare, unlikely to be polarising.
Yin’s Sourdough Bakery and Café, 41G, 37 Jalan SS21/37, Damansara Utama, PJ. Daily, 7.30am-7.30pm. Call 03 7496 9297 or Whatsapp 011 2419 5118 to order.
Half of the café is taken up by the kitchen, leaving limited seating space and a serving counter at Universal Bakehouse, with a cheekily retro signboard above the shop. The menu comprises light items — toasts, tartines, coffees, teas, kombuchas.
Assorted Sourdough (RM6) is two slices of the sourdough of the day, served with French butter and sea salt and a choice of accompaniments, ranging from gula melaka (RM3) to butter and ikura roe (RM12).
The Hummus and Tomato Tartine (RM11) is very good, a refreshing and substantial open-face sandwich with rich, creamy hummus, cherry tomato and sweet basil on a thick slice of sourdough.
The café sells a variety of fresh loaves and serves takeaways and in-house dining for a largely youthful crowd. The bread is airy, with large air pockets, yet it is substantial without being dense or chewy. It is lightly fragrant and neutral in flavour, with more character than white bread, making it easily adaptable to different flavours such as Seeded, Honey Oat and Apple. The crust, which is neither very thick nor thin, adds character to the bread.
Universal Bakehouse, 21 Jalan SS20/11, Damansara Kim, PJ. Tues-Sat, 9am-3pm; Sun, 9am-5pm. Whatsapp 011 3332 7581 to order.
Dough & Dolce
You can smell freshly baked bread past the queue on the staircase to the crowded, cosy interior of this upstairs café, with indoor seating and an outdoor bench table with a view. With a handwritten menu on a blackboard and self-service for cutlery and water, it has an almost collegial atmosphere, with everyone waiting for food.
Dough & Dolce offers breakfast and brunch, with a small selection of pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and hot food with bread in various guises. I tried the Country Sourdough (RM24 for wholemeal, RM22 for White — full portion; also available in half and quarter portions), served in rough, big untoasted slices.
The bread crust is blistered, like roast pork crackling, with large, irregular air pockets and a loose, stringy texture, along with the characteristic aroma and flavour of sourdough. Overall, it has excellent texture and flavour, and satisfying chewiness with a chewy, crunchy crust.
Cream Chili Clams (RM28) with toasted sourdough is fresh, with a lot of herbs, as well as a thick creamy, spicy sauce. The toasted sourdough is very good for dipping and hits the spot.
The café is trendy, hip and crowded but the food is good, so you probably would not mind waiting for a table.
Dough & Dolce, 24A, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1, TTDI, KL. Wed-Mon, 10am-7pm. Order here.
Smith: Wood-Fired Oven Breadsmiths
Smith produces a variety of sourdough bread from a humungous wood-fired oven behind a glass window. A stack of wood in the restaurant feeds the beast. The contemporarily themed café has a breakfast and brunch menu heavy on sourdough, with coffees, teas, juices and kombuchas for drinks.
The Mixed Sourdough (RM8) presents Farmhouse and Country sourdough bread with sea-salt on French butter. The silky-smooth butter flatters the freshly baked bread, with its thick crust and dense, even texture — the Farmhouse having a stronger character than the plainer Country sourdough.
Smoked Salmon Tartine (RM25) comprises thinly sliced cucumber, onion, mayo, capers and pickles painstakingly arranged over gritty, crusty sourdough — playing out the contrast between smooth salmon and dense bread.
The vibe here is youthful and hip but respectable, making it a choice for the urban sophisticate. The bread is dense, even textured and thickly crusted without being chewy, appealing to those who like bread with flavour and heft, inclining towards Teutonic-style bread.
Smith: Wood-Fired Oven Breadsmiths, 71 Jalan Setia Bakti, Bukit Damansara, KL. Tues, 9am-4pm; Wed-Sun, 8.30am-4pm. Order here.
This article first appeared on April 27, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.