Studying late at night was never easy while in school. As the hands of the clock inched towards midnight , the droopy eyes and stomach would protest. There was always a sure shot remedy to handle this. Stealthily walk up to the refrigerator, get some milk, a couple of slices of bread and butter. A hot cup of coffee and a sandwich would take care of the rest. The sleep would disappear for a while and a feeling of satiation enabled to focus some more time on the books.
The early love for coffee and sandwiches kept growing with time. As I got to travel even in early years in the job and subsequently too, I had to eat outside a lot. The easiest option was the bakery products. The aroma of freshly baked bread, buns, croissants, cakes and the works was irresistible and invariably always the first choice. I was fortunate to see some of the most awesome bakeries hidden in the back streets of cities in Europe, like Genoa, Nice, Barcelona and Paris. The golden crust of the bread, the fine layers of patties, the creamy succulent pies and pastries were a feast for eyes and a gastronomic delight. A recent trip to Malta, and Turkey turned out to be a boon as I fell in love with their pastizzi , and baklawa that would melt in the mouth, effortlessly.
Since the early years, I would read up and try to bake a pizza, invariably ending in disasters. There would be no takers for a crust that would be as hard as a car tyre and a test of fitness for the tooth!
Having hung my boots recently, I get ample time to get hooked to the art of baking yet again. This time the inspiration came from one of my wife’s friend who called us over for a demonstration on baking bread at home. It turned out so well that I decided to try the same at home while my wife was away to school. Also, a blog friend, Ashwini, in Chennai would keep posting the enticing pictures of her baking creations on Facebook, adding more fuel to the fire that had been stoked.
|Oat Meal Bread|
I seriously got into the act. In almost three months, the time devoted to learning the new skill, has not only kept me busy but helped in finding confidence in a hitherto hidden desire . Paul Hollywood the master baker, Nigella Lawson, Tracey Zabar and Michella Chiappa have became the new icons that I revere. I hurriedly saw their shows and read their recipes to learn the tricks of the trade.
The first bread that became a success was an ordinary bun and gradually I tried combinations which got better with time. The finer nuances of how well the dough needs to be kneaded to ensure that gluten is formed, thereafter allowed to ferment till it becomes double the size were learnt . I keep learning in baby steps and have managed to make some ordinary milk bread, garlic bread, oatmeal bread , Farl and most recenty stuffed buns! The joy of seeing the bread rise and turn golden in the oven is beyond words. The final proof of eating bread lies in the spongy and soft inner texture and a well formed crust. A sample of the breads that have been tried is presented but the journey has just begun!
PS: All Images are of breads prepared at home:)