Best bread in Dubai

Celebrity chef Anna Olson talks about the science of baking Discuss this article

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Time is a precious commodity these days, which means eating on the go is a way of life for many of us. This increasingly fast-paced life means we have less time for more traditional pastimes – especially when it comes to our escapades in the kitchen. Baking in particular is a skill that has fallen by the wayside, which is why Time Out resolved to try its hand at the lost art.

Before we rolled up our sleeves and started kneading, we enlisted the help of Canadian celebrity chef Anna Olson, who is in town for the Gulfood Conference. Anna has been gracing Canadian small screens for nine years and, while she shares all manner of recipes with her audience, her primary passion is baking.

‘There’s a completely different atmosphere working in a baker’s kitchen,’ she tells Time Out. ‘My husband is a chef as well, and he’ll tell you it’s the same as the difference between rock music and classical music. [In a chef’s kitchen] the atmosphere is noisy, frenzied and chaotic, and it’s all about the moment. A pastry kitchen focuses on being organised, ahead of schedule. It has a nice rhythm and cadence to it as you move along from task to task. There’s a real sense of serenity to a baker’s kitchen.’

Anna makes no secret of the fact that baking is a commitment, which might explain why it’s fallen by the wayside in these non-committal times. ‘Some people play golf, some people bake bread or make cookies. It’s taking time out of your day that is the real investment.’

There’s also a sense that baking is difficult to master. While cooking depends largely on experimentation and tinkering with ingredients, there’s an exact science to baking that has to be adhered to. But for Anna, this is part of the attraction. ‘It’s less about the end result. It’s less about the indulgence and the eating of the desserts; whether you’re a professional or a home-baker, it’s that gratification of the task. You have to have trust and faith in the blending of the ingredients and the way in which you blend them, so when it comes out of the oven it has that desired effect – and it doesn’t always!’

So what baking tips and tidbits does Anna have to share? ‘On the personal side you have to give yourself a break – have a bit of self confidence. Baking is an esteem-building task; you have to throw your faith into a recipe.’

Anna also explains that one of the biggest problems encountered by bakers – amateurs and professionals alike – is the oven they use. Many domestic ovens are off-temperature: even though you set the oven to a certain temperature, this may not reflect the actual temperature inside. The solution, she says, is to use a thermometer to keep track of the temperature inside the oven. Baking is an exact science and even a few degrees could ruin what’s set to be a perfectly good cake.

Any final tips? If at first you don’t succeed, try again. ‘Like everything, to get better at baking takes practice. But remember, even if the end results don’t look pretty, most of the time they are quite delicious!’

Best breads in town

Don’t want to make your own bread? Get the fresh-baked taste at these Dubai venues
Al Reef Lebanese Bakery
Manakish, spinach fatayer, date biscuits – Al Reef stocks a glorious array of Arabic baked goods, all of which are available around the clock, meaning the bakery is as popular with sweet-toothed kids as it is with bleary-eyed late-night revellers.
Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah (04 394 5200)

Eric Kayser
This French brand has set up shop in The Dubai Mall, bringing with it the tradition of using natural leaven. We love the bread platter, complete with tasty pestos and spreads.
The Dubai Mall (04 339 9375)

Le Succès French Bakery & Pastry
Breads, macaroons, tarts, cakes, patisseries – if you can bake it, you’ll find it here. To add to the authenticity, the kitchen even features two French chefs. While Motor City dwellers use Succès for a café as much they do a bakery, we’re just as happy to drop by to pick up some freshly baked loaves.
Motor City, (04 447 4163)

By Oliver Robinson
Time Out Dubai,

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