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January 14, 2010

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Baking bread and cakes the healthy Wagas way

HAVING taken on the cafe world with healthy gourmet sandwiches and such, Wagas is rising to a new occasion - it's challenging the airy, tasteless and sugary world of typical local offerings from the oven.

Last week it opened its first artisan bakery, Baker & Spice, on Anfu Road. It will find a warm welcome from those seeking nourishing, substantive breads and delicious cakes. There are no additives, some products are gluten-free and that range will be expanded according to customer feedback.

The Western-type bakery posts the times that the latest piping hot offerings will come out of the oven, so customers can wait for some of the freshest breads in the city.

Wagas General Manager Jackie Yun has donned an apron and she was back behind the counter during our visit.

The new bakery will provide breads and cakes to more than 14 Wagas' outlets around the city.

The company aims to quickly expand the baking arm of the business and open two more bakeries this year if the first outlet is successful.

"We are always looking for ways to improve the Wagas business and our products so it was a natural next step to start making our own cakes and bread," Yun says.

Modeled on a typical artisan bakery in Sydney or Melbourne, the antipodean connection runs into the kitchen where New Zealand baker David O'Brien is baking and training staff.

Formerly from renowned Melbourne bakery Baker D'Chirico, O'Brien says he wants to make wholesome, natural breads using traditional recipes and techniques.

"I just want to keep improving our recipes. There are no false additives. We just want a wholesome product and I am really into sour doughs. I want to push that."

The New Zealand connection continues with prominent baker Dean Brettschneider, also a consultant for Baker & Spice.

The author of five books, Brettschneider has opened his own micro-bakery in Auckland and worked as a consultant at Slice Bakery in Shanghai.

While sour dough breads are a tough find in Shanghai, the bakery also stocks a dark rye loaf that is sure to keep Nordic bread lovers interested as it is made from 100 percent rye.

The bakery is a simple setup, with a long counter area in front of an extensive baking facility out the back. A long rustic communal table provides places to sit and have a coffee and to peruse the various offerings.

Bread is 28 yuan (US$4.10) a loaf. The bakery offers a range of breads, including a Pan Coi Santi, a rich, dense fruit loaf, a wonderfully rich, yellow corn boule and olive bread.

Traditional crusty baguettes are a very reasonable 15 yuan, as is big Turkish pide bread (18 yuan) and a range of cinnamon and raisin and cranberry bagels (9 yuan).

The bakery offers a range of cakes. These include smaller individual cakes like a zucchini and poppy seed cake with a light cream cheese icing for 18 yuan. Bigger cakes are priced between 90 yuan and 98 yuan.

The gluten-free product range will be expanded to include breads and other products, says Yun.

"We are listening to feedback from our customers and we know there are people out there with wheat allergies and other allergies. We want to try to cater for them as we work through things in the next couple of months," Yun says.

Baker & Spice

Address: 195 Anfu Rd

Tel: 5404-2733 Other bakeries that sell healthy farePatisserie De France

This small French bakery tucked into a small shop on popular foodie street Donghu Road lures customers with a front window packed with crusty loaves and custard and pear Danish pastry (9 yuan/US$1.30). Prices are affordable and quality is high. A range of pastries and tarts sells for between 9 yuan and 24 yuan. The bakery does one of the best chocolate ??clairs in town for just 12 yuan.

Address: 30 Donghu Rd85C

Their greasy baked goods are a trans-fat hit that is scorned by legions of fans throughout the city. A "break the glass in case of emergency" hangover cure, these offerings are only recommended when they have come straight out of the oven. However, their chocolate chip cookies are a real surprise and are a very passable afternoon tea snack.

Address: 269 Wujiang Rd; 600 Weihai Rd; 60 Huaihai Rd E. (More could be found at Corner

One might expect premium prices at a five-star hotel bakery but the Hilton has long been an affordable option for a range of pastries and breads. Quiches are 22 to 25 yuan, loaves of organic and gluten-free breads range from a slightly pricier 36 to 40 yuan but they are high quality. There is also have a great range of reasonably priced croissants(8 yuan) and chocolate and almond croissants (10 yuan).

Address: Lobby, Hilton Hotel, 250 Huashan RdHouse of Flour

The brainchild of Brian Tan who has gone on to tempt the city's taste buds with HoF, this bakery has a range of well-made breads but the stars are its chocolate cakes and cheesecakes. For the Pudong-side dwellers, this place can be one of the best things about living on that side of the Huangpu River.

Address: 1/F, No. 2 Shanghai Legend, 635 Bibo Rd, Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park, Pudong

Paul Bakery Cafe/City Shop

These stalwarts have built a loyal following over the years. City Shop has wholesome mixed grain breads and affordable sliced breads and baguettes. However both outlets can leave shoppers feeling hurt in the hip pocket.

Address: Shanghai Center, 1376 Nanjing Rd W,


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