A husband-and-wife team has set up a micro bakery selling a range of homemade sourdough organic bread.
FOR nearly two years, Ruza Jajuli and her husband Nordinie Mahat have been offering the health-conscious crowd their homemade organic sourdough loaves.
Through their micro bakery — The Bread Fox — the two sell freshly-baked whole wheat bagel, plain or with toppings of organic chia seed, poppy seed or sesame seed.
There are also whole wheat brioche topped with sugar, lemon glazed, organic cinnamon and ginger rolls and organic chia seed as well as cranberry and raisin scones.
They have also tried their hands at making breads that are not easily available here such as simit, a popular bread from Turkey and bialy, a traditional baked roll originated from Poland.
Ruza and Nordinie’s venture into organic bakery was unintentional. Both had resigned from their jobs — Nordinie was an art director and Ruza owned a production house — when they were expecting their twin sons.
“I had to sell my business when I was pregnant with the twins in 2012. I had severe morning sickness and could not work or drive. Dinie had to resign too to look after me. After our sons were born, we did a photography project but it was tough as we had to leave them with my mother. After we had our daughter two and a half years ago, we knew we needed to do something from home so that we could be with them,” says Ruza.
Since they both love to bake, they thought a bakery is the perfect option. Their first attempt was to make bagels, as Ruza loves to them.
“I love to eat bagels but good and fresh bagels are not easy to find. So we tried making them, thinking that it can be the start of our venture.
“But the results were not what we expected. The taste and shape were horrible. Everything was just wrong. I told Dinie that we need to learn from a professional baker,” says Ruza.
LEARN FROM THE MASTER
As Ruza had to be with the children, they decided that Nordinie would be the baker. He approached Mustaffa Abdullah, the owner of the famed White Brick Oven, to teach him. It was through Mustaffa that Nordinie was exposed to making organic breads.
“He told me about the difference between organic and non-organic flour and the former’s health benefits. I remember bringing non-organic butter and he told me to leave it outside.
“It was a long process as I learnt how to ferment sourdough and all the techniques to make organic bagels. Since I did not understand organic flour and how it worked, there was a lot of trial-and-error,” says Nordinie.
A few months later, he managed to perfect his bagels as well as pretzels. Initially, the couple wanted to sell them around their neighbourhood in Jalan Damansara.
“It was difficult as no one wanted to buy our bread. Since the bagels and pretzels must be eaten when they are fresh, we had to drive around trying to sell them. It was not an ideal method.
“It was also tough as I had to rent Mustaffa’s kitchen to bake the bread. I had to be at his bakery in Sungai Buloh from midnight to 5am to prepare everything. It was really tiring to commute and then bake for hours. We finally decided to turn one room at home into a small bakery,” says Nordinie.
In September 2016, The Bread Fox was officially in business. Ruza is in charge of the operations — creating a website and Instagram account to market their breads, manage orders as well as the financial aspects of the business.
Ruza says although their initial plans did not involve selling organic breads, they were happy that they made the decision to continue with it.
“Personally, we believe that reducing intake of chemicals or additives from food is healthier compared to having it full on from conventional methods of farming. Eating more organic food is definitely beneficial when it is part of a healthy lifestyle. While we can’t fully avoid them, we should try to minimise them in our lives.
She says over the years, there has been an increase of not just health conscious customers, but also those who are battling illnesses looking for a healthier alternative for their daily food intake. Some of them suffer from cancer, indigestion and allergies.
“We never label the bread as healthy because we do not wish to misguide people into thinking that they can be healthy or even heal their illnesses. We believe one of the ways to have good health is to have a balanced lifestyle. We want people to know that if they practise a healthy lifestyle, they should also be concerned about what they put in their bodies.”
Nordinie says he would only provide the information about organic ingredients to customers.
He would also explain that aside from flour, the sesame seed, chia seed, poppy seed, pomegranate concentrate, sugar and salt are also organic.
“People who already know about organic would buy them without questions. Those who don’t like organic would not buy the bread regardless of what I say. We cannot be health advocates for them. But if they are willing to exercise to keep healthy, why are they not willing to do the same with food?”
THE LONG AND DIFFICULT ROAD
Ruza says it is still not easy to encourage new customers to buy their organic breads. People’s perception is that the breads are too expensive and that organic is a sham.
“People would ask a lot of questions about the ingredients and why we are using them. We always tell them all of the ingredients we use, we even tell the percentage and ratio of whole wheat to plain flour for customers to be able to make informed decisions.
“We describe them as, ‘made from organic certified produce, grown without the conventional chemicals’. They are real breads, meaning we do not use any artificial additives or improvers, additional enzymes or any other kind of conditioners most commercial breads use to either increase shelf life or to make it softer.”
When people complain about the prices, Ruza and Nordinie would explain that when compared with non organic breads, their price points are fair, and most of the baked goods are even cheaper.
“We sell organic scones for RM5 or sometimes RM4. But people are willing to pay RM9 for non-organic scones. We had to tell them that some of the ingredients are costly and we have to make some profit. After all, we have bills to pay,” says Ruza.
Nordinie says the breads’ main ingredients are organic flour, salt and oil and sourdough that is fermented by him. This, he says, makes it easy for customers who may have allergic reactions to other ingredients.
“The breads are home made so it is easy to inform customers. I would tell them there are no food conditioners, bread softeners, preservative, yeast or eggs.”
Sourdough breads are easier to digest and have been found to be a good choice for people with irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes.
As for their future plans, Ruza says they are hoping to have their own flour mill and open a small cafe. They are also planning to conduct classes on fermenting sourdough and making the breads.
HOW TO ORDER
TO ensure the breads are freshly baked, Ruza Jajuli and Nordinie Mahat only accept orders from their website at http://thebreadfox.com.
You need to place an order at least one day for scones, two days for bagels and three days for brioches before the pick-up date.
The breads are available for pick-ups at Taman Rekreasi Lembah Kiara, Taman Tun Dr Ismail every Saturday and Sunday from 8.30am to 11am.
You can also Whatsapp or call 011-3300 6272 for last minute orders to check on the breads’ availability.
The Bread Fox also sells sourdough 30 per cent whole wheat loaves at the selected stores below on specific days:
Tuesdays: Matahari Organic, The Hive, Stella Food Hall
Saturdays: Opika, The Hive, Stella Food Hall
THE CASE FOR ORGANIC BREAD
IN a study by Washington-based The Organic Centre, an average loaf of organic bread contains 49 per cent whole food ingredients compared to 12 per cent in conventional bread.
The presence of preservatives and additive ingredients is almost four times higher in conventional bread than in organic — 27 per cent to 7 per cent.
The study states that 63 per cent of ingredients in organic bread are nutritionally beneficial, compared to only 27-28 per cent in conventional breads. The refining process in conventional breads leads to a loss of nearly 75 per cent of the nutrients.
As a result of fewer irrigation practices and no synthetic fertilisers and pesticides being used in crops’ growth, a higher amount of significant health-promoting nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants can be found in organic grains.
Eating organic and whole grain breads also helps in weight management and helps keep regular bowel movements. Organic breads have minimal processing, which makes them easier to digest and provide the benefit of allowing more nutrients to be absorbed with your body’s natural digestion processes.
Reduction of chemical treatments, genetic modification and other unnatural processes to commit the grains to flours for breads mean that organic bread takes far less processing and reduces the impact on the earth.