Chan Su Yin, Baker – Yin’s Sourdough Bakery
In this interview, Chan Su Yin from Yin’s Sourdough Bakery, tells of her journey in opening the bakery and what motivated her change in career.
What do you do?
I am a baker. I bake sourdough bread, long fermentation, no commercial yeast. I am also a member of the Slow Food Movement, where we advocate making food traditionally and wholesome. Our bakery and café retail a whole lot of food that we make and bake ourselves, such as sourdough bread, pastry, jam, sourdough noodles, sourdough wrap/burrito, coffee that we roast, sausages, luncheon meat.
How did you get into the industry?
I used to work in a pharmaceutical company, and I loved to bake. I baked every day after coming back from home. At that time, I was still baking yeasted bread. It only takes three hours after work at night to provide a fresh loaf of bread for the next morning.
Almost 12 years ago we had a chance to move to the USA, as my husband’s company transferred him there. I discovered a type of bread called sourdough in the USA, baked without yeast through long fermentation. I fell in love with it. Coming from a science background, I did a little research. I discovered that sourdough bread is actually very good for diabetics. It helps to control the sugar level. I quickly taught my mother, who was a diabetic, how to bake sourdough bread. Miraculously after a year of eating sourdough bread, her sugar level improved. Even her doctor was surprised.
After almost two years of living in the USA, we decided to come home, started a small bakery called Yin’s Sourdough Bakery. And it just expanded from there.
Share with us a story from behind the scenes.
Anything can go wrong in making sourdough bread, as you let the bread ferment and rise naturally. The industrial revolution created many additives and chemicals to mass-produce bread uniformly and in the fastest way possible.
I had to change my whole recipe when we moved our bakery from Balik Pulau to Georgetown. Balik Pulau is an idyllic countryside, the temperature was cooler, and when we moved to Georgetown, everything fermented faster. Opening a bakery in Damansara Uptown, we needed yet another change of the recipe.
What’s a food memory from your childhood or travels that stands out?
My grandfather used to run a Kopitiam in Ipoh. During that time, everything was made in the Kopitiam, from bread, pau, kaya and kuih. I was paid 1sen to stand on a stool and stir his kaya for hours.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part is when a customer tells us how the sourdough bread helps them in their health, from digestion to improved blood sugar levels. The worst part is when customers tell us commercial/supermarket bread is much better than our sourdough bread.
But then, of course, we don’t blame them. Since young, we have been fed this soft bread – it is hard to get back to knowing what real bread tastes like. It is the same analogy that I tell people, try eating a real kampung chicken that runs around. The texture would be totally different compared to the one you buy in the supermarket.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing?
Coffee and toasted sourdough bread with thick butter and kaya.
What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
Two of the craziest experiences happened when we started our bakery.
First, someone called me up and scolded me for selling spoiled and sour bread. And secondly, an uncle ,after eating our bread for six months, came every day to stand outside our bakery in Balik Pulau and promoted our bread to passersby.
The perfect day off would be…
A perfect baked sourdough bread.
A day in the life of Chan Su Yin is…
6 am in the bakery… back home at 8 pm.
What do you do for fun?
Catch up on my sleep.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Yin’s Sourdough Bakery?
All of our sourdough bread and buns go through the long fermentation without any commercial yeast. We have a wide range of types of bread, from a softer one to the more chewy European type like pain demich. Do let us know your preference. We also have a wide range of whole food, jams, sausages, coffee, kefir and kombucha that we make ourselves.
How has the pandemic changed you, your perspective, or the way you operate?
When we started our bakery, it was purely baking bread. However, as we grew, we moved to serve hot food. The pandemic has forced us to relook at our whole operation. The dine-in side of the operation might be gone forever.
What’s something you’d like people to know about being a sourdough baker as a profession?
You need to be very passionate about being a sourdough baker. There is no shortcut. It’s long hours. You will be tempted every day to try to use additives and chemicals to better control your bread and baking process.
What’s your view on the bakery scene in KL?
It is good to see many new sourdough bakeries popping up, and people are more accepting of sourdough bread.
How has the pandemic changed you as a person?
We need to pivot and change to continue driving Yin’s forward.
How has the pandemic changed you as a baker?
I needed to refocus on my dream – putting Yin’s sourdough bread in every home. Customers are no longer coming to us; we are going to the customer.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
We are coming up with a significant change on how we will operate in terms of us going to the customer. Stay tuned. We will be announcing it soon.