The Curious Case of the “Half Price” Bakery

half price bakery

I was getting a loaf of bread from my usual bakery when I overheard a couple of students whispering and gesturing excitedly beside me. The bakery is open 24 hours and thus attracts a huge clientèle of mostly college kids who hang out there to “study”. It was about 2 am in the morning and I was just about to go to the cashier when one of the students leaned in consiprationally and murmured:

The butter milk buns are “half price” today, if you want to get them.

half price buns

Puzzled, I looked up and saw it was RM 5.20 for a small bundle of five buns – there was no mention of there being a 50% discount. This bakery doesn’t do discounts since it’s open 24 hours and they just cycle out their products instead.

What do you mean?”, I enquired, slightly baffled.
There’s a new guy behind the counter and he’s ringing up the buns as RM 2.50 for a pack”, the student breathlessly told me.

I’m not as excited as the college kids about potential savings by shafting it to a faceless corporate entity, but it did seem funny to me. I know that there’s a single bun version for RM 2.50 – the lowest price point of anything in the bakery. I’ve also had the 5-pack bundle before and thought they were quite good – especially if they’re just 50 cents per small bun instead of the RM 1+ it usually costs. smirk

I grabbed the pack and went to the cashier, and sure enough, the new guy rang it up as RM 2.50 when it came to the students turn. He also rang it up as RM 2.50 for me. I saw the supervisor beside him and was about to tell him about the mistake when I thought, why ruin the students fun?

half price bill

Let’s see how long they can keep this up.

I went there again the next night, and lo and behold, there was only a single pack left! There’s usually about 6 packs stocked on the shelves, it’s not a very popular item, but word seems to have gotten around and it’s *open season* on the “half price” butter milk buns.

I glanced outside and saw that the new guy was still on duty, and added it to my purchases to see if he’ll still do the same. Surely, he must have learnt of his mistake! How can a bag of 5 buns be as cheap as RM 2.50? Doesn’t he know better? Has he never looked at the bakery’s offerings? Most items are around the RM 6-10 price point!

buttermilk buns

Nope, it turns out that he was totally unaware of his mistake, and rang it up as RM 2.50 again.

I went again earlier today and saw that the new guy has left. I had a bag of the butter milk buns with me and it was finally tabulated at the correct RM 5.20 price. It was the supervisor behind the counter and I finally got the chance to ask him – “Did you know the new guy was scanning the bag of 5 buttermilk buns as RM 2.50 for a couple of days?”.

full price

He replied in the affirmative and said he’s been let go as a result of that. It turns out that they were selling out of the bags every single day, so they made more as a result but the books at the end of the day didn’t add up. They just realized what he had done after 4 days!

Oh well, I was sick of eating buttermilk buns every day anyway. :)

I baked my own Poppy Seed Bread with organic Macadamia Butter from scratch!

poppy seed bread

Yup, I went out and did a little shopping at the local baking supplies shop yesterday to make my own Poppy Seed Bread! This recipe requires:

baking supplies

  • High protein flour (250 g)
  • Poppy seeds (28 g)
  • Milk powder (6 g)
  • Salt (4 g)
  • Granulated sugar (12 g)
  • Egg yolk (1 yolk)
  • Vegetable oil (2 tbsp)
  • Water (170 ml)
  • Instant dry yeast (¾ tsp)

even bread

I had this freshly baked and still warm – the thick slices were slathered with organic macadamia butter (it’s just 100% crushed macadamia nuts) and it was so delicious!

taking loaf

(and it just took me 2 hours to bake)

baking water

I did not need to knead or proof the dough coz I had a Panasonic Bread Maker. Haha! I just:

1. Dumped all the ingredients into the loaf shaped bread maker

yeast dispenser

2. Measured out the yeast and poured it into the automatic yeast dispenser

menu

3. Selected “Rapid Bread” and “Medium” crust

perfect bread

4. Sliced the bread

poppy seeds

It was sooo easy that we wanted to make a second batch immediately. However, one minor issue with the bread maker is that it’ll come out with a U50 error code if you try to do that without waiting 1 hour (officially) for it to cool down. However, I managed to achieve that in 20 minutes by putting it under a fan in a 16 degree Celsius room (my living room is air-conditioned).

egg yolk

I have always heard that baking was a very exact science and you cannot mess around with it. Ingredients are supposed to be measured out to the exact gram or milliliter – no more, no less. However, I wanted to make another Nutella loaf since I thought the kids will enjoy eating that. I also forgot to put in the salt (!!!) the second time around.

nutella

My better half told me that the bread will not rise, but the Panasonic Bread Maker prevailed! Even though yeast requires salt and sugar to proof, I used honey in lieu of the sugar in the second loaf and poured in 2 heaped tablespoons of Nutella. It really made the bread fragrant and taste of hazelnut.

knead nutella

Even better, the bread came out fine despite me forgetting the salt (and no, Nutella does not contain sodium) and I didn’t put any vegetable oil in (we used canola for the first batch) since I reckon it’ll have enough hazelnut oil to and I was right!

bake

The poppy seeds are spread so evenly throughout the bread too! It’s unlike other bread makers which can have uneven ingredient distribution. I really like the ambient temperature sensors of the Panasonic Bread Maker for optimal proofing too!

nutella bread

There’s nothing quite like eating freshly baked bread without any preservatives or artificial additives coz you control what you put in. It tasted absolutely fabulous!

It’s just so convenient to have my own Panasonic Bread Maker at home and we look forward to a lot of baking in the future. I love bread! I love eating it, I love baking it, and I love looking at it. You might call that a tad obsessive but I’ve even come up with lots of weird recipes for sandwiches. smirk

Sweet pineapple + Greek yoghurt sandwich with alfalfa sprouts & beans, vintage cheddar and Chiang Mai strawberry on Poppy seed bread

pineapple yoghurt sandwich

I made this vegetarian (it’s almost vegan if not for the dairy products) sandwich for my dear one morning. We went out grocery shopping and I took whatever I thought would taste good in a breakfast sandwich – a sweet start to the day.

I don’t want to toot my own horn but this is one damn good sandwich! :)

You will need:

breakfast sandwich recipe

  • Dole pineapple slices (the canned stuffed that comes in a ring for burgers and such)
  • Greek yoghurt (plain)
  • Alfalfa sprouts (I got a mixture of broccoli and alfalfa sprouts)
  • Combo beans (comes with slight sprouts and adds texture)
  • Aged vintage cheddar
  • Strawberry jam (I used a gourmet Chiang Mai strawberry spread)
  • Poppy seed bread

I chose to use poppy seed bread as it goes really well with this. We had 3 different kinds of bread at that time and this seemed the most appropriate choice.

greek yoghurt

The true secret to this sandwich though is the Greek Yoghurt. I got the plain, natural full cream version and the texture of this compared to regular yoghurt is remarkably similar to sour cream. I ate a lot of this when I was in university (alfalfa sprouts too) and loved it – it’s thick, spreadable, and piles on like nothing else.

bean sprouts

I spread scooped about a good *heaping* inch of the Greek yoghurt on one side of the bread and used the Chiang Mai strawberry gourmet jam on the other.

alfalfa beans sprouts

Next, I spread some mixed beans with sprouts on the Greek yoghurt side of the bread (so it’ll sink in and provide texture and taste).

…and topped it off with a healthy handful of alfalfa and broccoli sprouts.

homemade vintage aged cheddar

The last bit on this side before putting it together is adding some crumbled pieces of premium handmade no-preservative vintage Tasmanian Farm True Cheddar Cheese that’s been aged for 18 months. This can be a bit intense so you’ll notice there’s *two different sandwiches* – I spread just a little yoghurt and omitted the cheese for my dear.

I took a pineapple ring (refrigerated) and put it on the Chiang Mai strawberry jam side for the finishing touch!

his hers

It’s an awesome sandwich, if I say so myself. The secret to making it good is that everything (except the bread) needs to be in the fridge so it’s cold. It’s supposed to be a breakfast sandwich.

I like making sandwiches and I consider this fruit and yoghurt concoction with cheese on poppy seed one of my best sweet breakfast sandwiches. I use my love as a taster, she’s an awesome cook, but she’s honest with my sometimes (admittedly) bizarre culinary creations. I’ll know if my sandwich experiments failed.

breakfast sandwich

This isn’t one of them. :)

greek yoghurt sandwich

The pineapple ring and strawberry provides a tangy morning juice kinda vibe and the slightly sour thick Greek yoghurt goes well with the fruits and alfalfa sprouts and beans for texture and taste. The 18 month aged true cheddar cuts across with a savory tango on your tongue. It’s a very refreshing start to the day!

Caviar and chocolate on wholemeal crisp rolls

chocolate caviar rolls

I’ve been down with the flu for the past few days and just woke up totally ravished after not eating for almost 24 hours. I rummaged about in my severely diminished pantry and decided to go with something very salty which doesn’t require much preparation as I’m still a bit sluggish.

Enter the tube of Smogaskaviar I got a few days ago. It’s not real caviar (cod roe, salthe roe, pacific cod roe for 51% of the total contents) but it is extremely salty. Heh.

It comes in a tube that I’ll rather call fish roe spread and I squeezed it all over a bag of wholemeal crisp rolls. I wanted to break the salty monotony (and monopoly) after the fifth one so I decided to top it off with a piece of dark chocolate.

chocolate caviar crisp roll

It’s surprisingly good, but would taste better if I had melted the chocolate.

It ain’t chicken soup for the soul but it sure is another one for the continuing bread story. smirk

5 exotic tropical fruit sandwiches

tropical sandwiches

I call this the Silat Buah Edition of my continuing bread story! smirk

1. Mangosteen sandwiches

mangosteens

It’s the season for mangosteens now. Mangosteens season is the end of the year and the smaller ones do not have seeds, making it perfect for sandwiches!

mangosteen sandwiches

It’s a refreshing experiment but to be honest, not all that good.

2. Starfruit sandwiches

starfruit

I saw this jar of local government FAMA produced belimbing (starfruit) jam on sale once and bought a tub of it. I then sauntered over to the fruits section and got myself 3 starfruits.

I decided to slather the starfruit jam and then cut starfruit slices on top of it to make a starfruit sandwich with real fruit.

starfruit sandwich

I had to choke it down – the jam is crappy and almost inedible, full of sugar and a weird flavoring that has little to do with starfruit. Another one of my failed experiments. I still can’t bring myself to eat the jam – it’s still sitting in the fridge after another try on it’s own. Vile stuff.

3. Jackfruit sandwiches

jackfruit

You can get the fresh ones at SS2 night market. I found it much better than the ones at the local hypermarket. It’s one of the more expensive fruits around at over RM 9 / kg. I just slid the fruit between bread since it’s quite flavorful by itself.

jackfruit sandwiches

It should probably be noted that seeds should be taken out before inserting into bread. It’s pretty good – especially when paired with cream cheese spread!

4. Durian sandwiches

durian

It might be heresy to some to use the precious durian as a sandwich filling. It’s expensive (recently bought a Holo durian for RM 33 with less than 10 seeds, costing over RM 3 each) so I used the more common D24 strain (RM 6 / kg) for this experiment.

I thought since it works so well with glutinous rice (seriously, durian and mangoes are perfect with glutinous rice) I reckon it might be okay with bread.

durian sandwiches

Nope, I still consider it a waste – I had to use about 4 seeds to gather enough flesh for a sandwich – it’s good, but durians deserve better treatment.

5. Jambu sandwiches

jambu

I saw this juicy local fruit at RM 8 / kg from a local roadside stand and it turned out to be one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever made! :)

fruit sandwiches

The secret is chunky peanut butter.

Jambu with chunky peanut butter has a very complex texture – the pure water squirting out of the fruit, the stickiness of peanut butter and the chewiness of bread. The flavor profile is amazing too – kinda like eating an apple with peanut butter (used to do that as a kid).

This is the tropical version – salty and buttery and sweet with refreshing bursts.

I did a lot of tongue-in-cheek sandwiches for fun but this…

jambu sandwiches

…this is the eureka moment, I discovered something I’ll really continue eating. It’s truly a great fruit sandwich! :)

3 survival meals made with leftovers and bread

I call this slightly tongue-in-cheek post the Vagabond Edition of my continuing bread story. smirk

Anyway, if you’re in strict budget mode these are some meals with bread that you can go with and it’s still quite tasty…in it’s own way. ;)

1. Bread with ketchup / chilli sauce

bread ketchup

I read Roald Dahl’s first biography – Boy as a kid and there’s an anecdote about his growing years inside. He and his mates ate sandwiches with just a dash of ketchup to give it a bit of flavor while one greedy individual had his full of pork and wouldn’t share. I distinctly remember the meat being bigger than the sandwich.

I did this with those small leftover single serve packages of chilli sauce I found at home. You can eat it with the same packets of ketchup too. It tastes rather good actually, especially if you have an egg to nibble on.

I had sandwiches with a fried egg and chilli sauce when I was in primary school and those were my absolute favorite! This reminds me a bit of that. ;)

2. Bread heaped with Milo / Ovaltine / any powdered malt drink

This is again another one from my childhood…and it tastes fabulous, but rather messy.

bread milo

It’s for those times when you’re sick of dunking it in a hot malt drink and wants a different texture. The trick we used to make the powdered drink “stick” to the sandwich is sweetened condensed milk as a kid.

However, I found that kaya works too and the grainy texture of the powdered malt drink is delicious on bread! :)

3. Bread with wine

People have been eating this for well over at least two thousand years…B.C. time. Jesus himself gave the last supper with bread and wine (albeit his was unleavened bread to conform with Jewish traditions at that time).

bread wine

Just generously anoint the bread with wine and savor it.

It’s surprisingly delicious! The wine is one I haven’t even tasted myself, it was opened ages ago and I was half afraid it had turned into vinegar! It hasn’t. It works best with red wine, chilled. The dates are correct, Anno Domini means Year of our Lord but He was born long after 1 A.D. – there’s a dating mistake somewhere along the line during the switch from Before Christ to AD, it’s 6-7 years off.

I reckon it’s a fitting one for Sunday too with the Eucharist and all that. :D

3 affordable and essential spreads for bread

I eat a lot of bread and this is my Top 3 list of essential bread spreads:

1. Cream cheese

cream cheese

This is a spreadable cream cheese that I’ve grown to love. It retails for about RM 7 for 200 grams – the same weight and price as those “mystery cheese” individually wrapped slices. I can’t say this is 100% real cheese either but it sure tastes a helluva lot better.

It’s creamy and savory! Made in Australia, the best thing about this small tub of cream cheese is that if you don’t consume it within 10 days it turns into sour cream – another *new* spread for your bread. smirk

I’m kidding, I don’t know what it turns into after 10 days coz I love the stuff.

2. Kaya (coconut jam)

kaya

Yup, this is a bread spread that we can count as our very own – made in Malaysia, something to be proud of. The word itself translates to English as “rich” and that’s exactly what the texture feels like. It’s a sweet concoction made of coconut and tastes like custard.

I usually get locally produced original ones (none of the pandan infused flavors for me) for RM 2.50. I also noticed that kaya goes better with softer bread e.g. the bran and wheat-germ types instead of 100% wholegrain.

3. Peanut butter

peanut butter

This is another staple of my fridge. I always go for chunky peanut butter – I’m not a huge fan of the smooth/creamy variety. I don’t like it cloyingly sweet either and I found this brand called Steffi’s Delight that’s made in the United States with no added sugar.

It really makes a lot of difference – it’s almost slightly salty and this brand also has visible chunks of peanuts. It’s cheaper than a lot of local brands too at RM 11 for over 500+ grams.

This kind of peanut butter works well with tougher breads like grain fortified 100% wholemeal/wholegrain. Lovely stuff, the only downside is the slightly disturbing use-by date of 2014…it’s gotta have a lot of preservatives inside for that kind of shelf life. :x

I still eat bread with the stuff in 3 delicious and dirt cheap meals with bread but have bought a couple of spreads to spice things up a little. This is just a continuation of my…er, bread story after the DBKL spectacle.

What spreads do you like and are you a chunky or smooth person? :)

3 delicious and dirt cheap meals with bread

I never eat white bread. It’s nutritionally inferior and I prefer the taste of brown bread nowadays anyway. I go for wholemeal/wholegrain (including the fad ones that has “enrichments” like Canadian Purple Wheat). It’s more expensive at RM 2.80 – RM 4.50 but definitely worth it for the additional vitamins for a balanced (hmm..) diet.

1. Sandwiches with surimi, sausages and boiled eggs

bread sausages surimi

This is considered a treat in survival mode. Heh. The surimi is store brand and family pack sized for extra savings, the sausages are the ultimate manifestation of mystery meat (plus it’s on sale at under RM 2) and eggs are eggs – you need them.

Coincidentally, these are the same items I use to cook ramen. smirk

2. Bread with milk

Ah! The staple since time immemorial. I’ll suggest fresh milk – it’s well worth the price premium for the fortified essentials – fat, for one. ;)

bread milk

Just plain bread goes a long way with flavorful fresh milk. Don’t skimp and go the reconstituted crap or low fat variants – if you’re in survival mode, you’ll need those extra calories.

3. Bread dipped in raw egg

This is a surprisingly delicious combo that I discovered. You can do it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil…so why not raw egg?

bread raw egg

Just crack one (chilled – leave it in the fridge for at least 24 hours) egg into a saucer and it can last for 4-5 slices of bread.

You can eat it by it’s own too, there’s taste and texture in some of the nut enriched ones and that’s what I do most of the time. These are just 3 examples are just to break the tedium of eating bread alone.

You know how it goes, man shall not live on bread alone. ;)

High 5 cooking session with Chef Ismail

chef ismail

I went to the High 5 Bread Town last week for a cooking session with none other than Chef Ismail himself!

One clue that this isn’t going to be your regular boring cooking demonstration is when Chef Ismail gave the cue for heart thumping music to play and got us to exercise…with High 5 bread as “weights”. I got so into it that my adrenaline was pumping like a fireman attempting to put out a 5 story blaze. Lame analogy but it’s either this or something NSFW. smirk

play dough

Anyway, we started off the session by kneading and molding fresh dough and making shapes with it. It’s like playing with Play Doh! I attempted to make a heart shaped one while my teammates went for abalone and a vaguely phallic looking thing that she twisted so hard it fell on the floor. Heh!

baking class

It’s a good thing that wasn’t for eating though – it’s for getting a feel (pun intended) for the high quality dough that High 5 uses for its bread.

coffee bread

Steaming hot coffee with slices of soft and fluffy High 5 bread was served to give us an experience of dipping the freshly baked bread into coffee.

coffee dunk

This is a breakfast staple for a lot of Malaysians on the go. It sure brings back those childhood memories!

ceo

After a short speech by Dato’ Jackson Tan, the Group Managing Director of Silver Bird Group Bhd (yes, it’s the same company that makes those delicious cakes) we donned our aprons and got into the gist of it.

ingredients

The proper cooking session started with the Mini Pizza. You can choose either wholemeal or white bread and chuck it in the oven while waiting for it to heat up to golden brown.

oven

Chef Ismail here shows us how to do it. He had his own special tomato base made with plum tomatoes, diced onions, chopped garlic, chopped parsley, thyme, oregano, tomato paste, black pepper and olive oil.

mini pizza

I made mine with extra tomato base (which we nicked from the good chef’s table) on High 5 wholemeal bread with half covered with chicken sausages and the other half with onions. I also added some diced capsicum and topped it off with grated mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

This was sent to the oven and after a couple of minutes…

mini pizza cooked

WALLAH!

It tasted really good, and I didn’t regret using the wholemeal bread as the base as it provides that extra texture to the thing.

curry puff roll

Next up is Sardine Curry Puffs. Okay, this one ups the ante a little since it requires motor coordination skillz and a bit of expertise.

curry puff fill

Chef Ismail made it look easy and I was determined to make this one come out right.

curry puff seal

I opted for High 5 white bread this time and used a rolling pin to thoroughly FLATTEN the slice of bread. You need to make the bread into pastry. I didn’t have the right technique apparently, since Chef Ismail had to come over and teach me how to really work that bread into a 1 mm pastry like base.

curry puff flatten

Now comes the tricky part – you shouldn’t overfill the the curry puffs. After cutting off the crust, you put some filling into the curry puff before using a mixture of flour and water to seal off the curry puff. I applied the flour paste liberally – on the sides and to the entire other half of the slice of bread before rolling it up and submerging it into hot oil.

hot oil

I am pleased to report that my Sardine Curry Puff turned out golden brown and tasty to boot!

curry puff bite

The last recipe we did was High 5 Bread Tuna Canapés. Canapés, for the uninitiated, is another word for the little morsels of food you see served at atas functions with champagne. As soon as Chef Ismail went into the part about being sophisticated while eating canapés, mine promptly flew out of my fingers and went God-knows-where. FML. >.<

canapes

Anyway, the High 5 Bread Tuna Canapés is very easy to make and it requires no cooking! All you need is basically a cutter to cut the pieces of bread into round shapes before buttering it and adding some tuna, cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of spring onions.

making canapes

It is an art form – you’re supposed to decorate the canapés and I guess I wasn’t really good at that.

group shot

Anyway, there was a prize for the best group amongst the gaggle of bloggers and media that was there. I did the speech, much to the woe of my teammates as I described how Kimberly dropped her dough, KY made a curry puff that expanded due to the overfill and how I somehow managed to eat a canape while at the same time unintentionally doing a Wright Brothers on it. Michelle and Nicholas‘ team won. Congrats! =D

Here’s a video of Chef Ismail working his magic. It’s quite long but good for the recipe!

tasting

There is also a contest where you can win iPads amongst other things called Jom Rasa & Menang. It’s really easy to enter!

ipad

Just look for the sticker on any High 5 bread products – there are different requirements depending on whether it’s sandwich bread, sausage rolls, buns, or cream rolls. After you buy it, fill up the entry form and enter the barcode displayed on the High 5 bread before dropping off your entry at the contest box located at bread stands in retail outlets or mailing it in. You can get more information and the contest form at http://www.silverbird.com.my/contest.php.

eating canapes

The High 5 cooking session with Chef Ismail was really fun! I liked how all the recipes bring out the essence in High 5 bread and now I have my own recipe arsenal to add to my repertoire of cooking! Thanks for the hospitality High 5! I really liked the Mini Pizza that I made. I guess you can say it’s the best thing since sliced bread. smirk

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