Sunday, January 3, 2010

Singapore Traditional Bread Bakery – Ghee Leong

Wake up and smell the bread!
I have been wanting to take photographs of this bakery ever since I saw the TV programme about the shop. Then one day, I almost passed by the place without noticing it, until my mum stopped and wanted to get some bread.
I looked back and was surprised. It is the place which I wanted to take photos from – one of the few remaining bakery making traditional bread in Singapore! The place was so dimly-lit that one could hardly noticed it was opened for business.
The signboard read “Ghee Leong”, pronounced in some kind of dialect.
See, the interior of the bakery looked like time had stopped. Not an expert in interior design, but I am guessing that decor looked like 70’s. 
I was so excited about the discovery that I immediately whipped out my camera and took photos. The aunty-in-charge wasn’t too happy about it and chided me for doing so. In the end, I was scolded by my mum for being so rude – take photos without permission. To pacify my mum and the aunty-in-charge, I was forced to ask for permission again which she readily agreed.
See, I don’t think I am rude on purpose. I was just too anxious to record this historic place down and forgot about the surroundings circumstances.
People need to know about this place, I feel. This kind of places are diminishing soon in fast-developing Singapore. I am not sure whether there is anyone recording these places down before they are gone.
After I got the approval, I immediately pointed my camera at the baker. He was making some kind of bun and is applying egg wash on them. Though he worked alone, but he is working quite fast. In a few moment, all the buns glittered brightly in yellow colour egg wash.
The traditional bakery actually specialised in big loaf bread. In the photo, the blacken loaf are traditional white bread and beneath it, there are sugar buns. Don’t let the blacken bread misled you. They are the most tender bread one could ever had.
Ok, here is a bit of background information. Unlike Europeans who like their bread to have a harder crusts and denser texture i.e. baguette, ciabatta, etc, Asian generally like their bread lighter and softer.
Don’t let the black exterior misled you, the white loaf actually have a soft inside. It needed an additional process before it is transformed to the white bread that we are so familiar with.
They needed to cut the crust away before the white fluffy exterior is revealed.
The above is half-processed loaf.
I noticed the owners collected the crusts in a garbage bag and asked what will they do with it. They said someone from local fish farms will come and collect them as feeds.

People probably do not know what this machine does. It cut up bread loaf into slices. I remembered when I was young, there is a similar bakery near where I lived. I always lingered at the bakery as I loved watching the baker “skinned” the crust. After skinning, they would put it in this machine to slice them.
Occasionally, the bakers would slice the bread manually. Because they are all experienced bakers, thus can cut up the slices quite uniformly.  

Loaves of freshly-bake breads cooling on the racks. The smell alone could just make you salivate. Where are the peanut butter and Kaya Jam?

Another shot of half process breads, waiting to be sliced and packed.

Perhaps the demand for traditional white bread are not as before, thus traditional bakers also baked a variety of goods such as sugar buns, butter rolls, and sandwich breads.
For those who are interested to visit the stall, they are located at a deserted street off Whampo and Balestier Rd. Not sure if they operate in the day, but I bumped into the shop at night. The prices of the bread are also quite cheap.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for typing on this. the pictures were extremely helpful. great description yet simple. Simplicity at its BEST!

my father used to buy this when i was schooling during my Primary and Secondary School days. I never realized until for 3 whole years during my poly days that i haven't been eating that kind of bread [i didn't know it was traditional bread].

I also realized how much i missed it. Because i enjoyed it WAY MORE than those Gardenia or Top One bread.

my father is extremely busy with his work too. so i rarely get to see him or talk to him, to ask and find out where to buy this bread.

FINALLY! thanks to you...i can find this WONDERFUL CREATION!

not even BreadTalk can win me over this simple, soft and fluffy white bread!

Ghee Leong FTW!
Thank you once again for typing on this =D :) ^_^

Photosophize [ 影.像.物语 ] said...

Thanks very much for your kind comments! I really appreciate them.

It is people like you that motivate me to blog about things which might be disappearing in Singapore.

They are things which I had seen or experienced when I was young. I hope to raise some awareness of these previous things through my blog post.

I re-read my post and I think I did not really write very well. :P

I will try to improve on it when I had time!

Thanks for bearing with my poor grammar!

Gillian said...

Hi do you know if they have a contact number? :)