For the past two years, baking seemed to be everyone’s favourite revived hobby. There was also a period of time when making sourdough, in particular, was all inspired (do-it-yourself) bakers wanted to perfect in their home kitchens.
Kade Chandra, the co-founder of Noolstrala bakery (stylised as Nool/Strala), was one of them. But instead of treating it as a passing fancy, the chef-turned-baker Kade turned his sourdough-making hobby into something worth pursuing. Since then, the process has been textbook: he started to perfect his sourdough starter (a mix of flour and water to produce natural yeast) and techniques through trial and error, gave freebies to friends for feedback, sold them by pre-order and confidently established his own bakery with partner-slash-baker, Laura Hidayat.
Today, Kade has his own bread factory in West Jakarta where pre-orders are made, and also a shop—he called it a live outlet—situated at the storefront of Mozzeria, a deli and pizzeria, in The Darmawangsa Square. Rows of Noolstrala’s homemade sourdoughs, bagels, toast bread and pastry fill its simple wooden counter, where eyeing customers can be seen ordering takeaway or having it in the restaurant throughout the day.
Aside from sourdough, the crowd favourite at the shop is the flavoured focaccia, from rosemary & sea salt to blue cheese & honeycomb. The pastries, such as strawberry mascarpone croissant and kouign-amann, also get good reception here. Don’t expect an overflowing stock though, because as Kade and his team firmly believe, everything must be freshly baked and served on the day.
Though sourdoughs can last until three days and up until a month when put in the freezer, the taste will naturally fall short; the loaf won’t be as light, the crust won’t be as crispy, and the crumb won’t be as chewy and airy—measures of a good sourdough according to Kade. It’s also an indication of him respecting the making process, where the leavened bread gets the best treatment from using premium flour to setting aside its starter for three days for a complete fermentation.
Sourdough bread, for Kade, is like a blank canvas, so any flavours can somehow blend in. Hence why Noolstrala’s numerous collaborations with local F&B brands are executed with an experimental approach; there’s the gochujang sourdough for Lunch for My Husband’s Gong Yoo sandwich, booze-filled croissants in collaboration with Ginchoux, and the upcoming team-up with Bend Beer.
In line with collaborations, Noolstrala’s exciting plans also involve a few more live outlets in numerous locations across the city and its own cafe. With genuine enthusiasm following Noolstrala’s bread, combined with an honest-to-goodness approach to baking and collaborating, it’s only a matter of time before Noolstrala is listed as one of the city’s trusted artisan bakeries.