November 30, 2016
With a history dating back 1933, and a vision to bring European-style bread and pastries to Japan, Boulangerie Asanoya has since expanded to Singapore with their delightful array of bread and pastries. In an intimate interview with head baker, Kenny Wong, we take a peek into the passion and philosophy that fuels Asanoya’s continual innovation and adaptation. Beginning his baking career at a tender age of 16, Kenny trained and worked with Asanoya in Japan for many years before relocating to Singapore when the brand opened its first South East Asian store. Highly knowledgeable of Asanoya’s style of baking and its traditional flavors, he continually works around them, researching and developing new recipes.
Since opening in Singapore, what is one thing you have noticed about the baking culture here?
The flavours in Japan lean towards accentuating the natural taste of ingredients. So coming to Singapore and experiencing pronounced profiles in the breads here inspired us to find a unification of both. The aesthetics are important to consumers as well. Every flavor having its own look lends character to it and attracts attention.
How do you think Asanoya adds to the bakery/cafe scene in Singapore?
Asanoya adds a European perspective to the baking culture in Singapore with the introduction of hard bread and pastries from Germany, France, and other European countries. These artisanal breads are a rare find here, as Singaporeans are accustomed to soft variants. Hence, we invite the customer to try out our different offerings with recipes adapted from the world around, infused with an Asian perspective.
What inspired you to get into baking?
The complexity of baking inspired me to learn more about this art form. You have the recipe that roughly informs about the bread you are making, but all other elements influence the outcome. A simple thing for example, like the temperature from the mixing stage to the end, when it is baked and comes out fresh from the oven is crucial. It takes experience and understanding to produce a consistent result every time.
What would be your favourite baked creation in Asanoya today?
I personally love hard breads. My favorite would be the fruit rye. Rye flour is high in fibre and rich in minerals. It is also high in antioxidants that may help prevent cancer.
How would you define a good loaf?
The quality of the ingredients matters the most in making a great loaf. The appearance matters too. How the bread/ bun looks sitting on a plate matters a lot to us.
What would be some flavours/tastes from Japan or any part of the world you want to bring to Singaporeans in a bun right now?
I would love to bring in citrus fruit peels from different parts of the world and use them in our bread. They carry taste profiles different from those found in and grown in the US and China, which are widely found in Singapore. I would also love to bring traditional Japanese red bean paste to Singaporeans. The thick plum colored paste carry a natural sweetness full of character and texture.
Any new tea flavors you might want to try baking with in the near future?
I would like to experiment with using fruit tea next. Perhaps, strawberry tea.
What do you think, makes Asanoya’s fruit rye its flagship product for over 20years?
The ingredients that make this bread play a big role. Essentially Rye flour. Imported from Germany, it is then processed at our facility in Japan before being dispatched to our shops for baking. The fruits and nuts come together with flour to create a symphony pleasing on the palate and beautiful to the eye.
I see that tea is widely used in your bakery items. How does tea change the flavour of bread as compared with fruits or savory meats?
The natural taste of bread accentuates the aroma and subtle flavours in the tea leaves, gently adding complexity to the taste profile. Meats produce heavier taste profiles and cater to different preferences.
Tea or coffee? Straight or with sugar/milk?
Black Tea. Served straight.
Complete the sentence, “I feel most inspired when …”
I feel the most inspired when working with the traditional methods and ingredients in baking.
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