Bake the world a better place: Here’s how to make bread and discover a new hobby during the lockdown
When I was training to be a baker, one memory that has always stayed with me is when I would laminate a croissant and shape it. I would chant the Gayatri Mantra and totally disconnect from my surroundings.
All my focus would be towards laminating the dough and getting it to the perfect shape. In my life, there are 3 incidents where I have felt connected to God, where I have felt spiritual and this was the first of them.
Baking keeps you calm
Baking has a charm like this. It can calm the most ruffled souls. At a time like the present when we are in the middle of a lockdown and we all feel so helpless and not in control, baking can be a very meditative skill to pick up on. Baking is such a broad- spectrum craft that to find the one item you will enjoy baking is easy.
Baking bread is simple and fun
Due to quarantine supply constraints, one has to bake with basic ingredients. But the positive part is this is where the beauty of bread lies. As the famous baker Carol Field once said, ‘Bread is made from flour, water, salt and yeast just as the earth is made from earth, fire, air and water’!
Breads require long proving (rising) and very careful handling at each stage. It takes 4-5 hours to bake sourdough and every few hours, you see your creation change and evolve. It’s a beautiful experience. So, for the patient learner, bread is a very good place to start.
A really good and easy way to start bread is by baking a brioche bread. It's easy to make, it has lots of butter so it's like getting a free manicure when you are mixing and shaping the dough. Brioche buns make the best base for burgers. You make it as a loaf and its delicious for French toast.
The thing I like most about pastry is how in a matter of an hour, you have something so delicious and sweet ready for the family to share. Actually, if you are anything like me, within 10 mins of mixing, the batter itself is yummy to have.
I always make some extra to munch on whilst I stare at the oven on the cake rising. The complexity of cakes, desserts are so varied that with lockdown extension, you can challenge yourself to rise and learn the next complexity of patisserie. Baking is also a very good way for a family to spend time together. Jobs can be divided amongst different family members and it’s a lovely food to share over a table.
Here are my go-to tricks whilst baking…
• Always trust a recipe that talks in grams as these recipes are more professional and more reliable.
• Whilst mixing the dough of bread, under-mixing is always better than over-mixing as over-mixing can kill the taste of bread. Whilst the bread is rising you can fold your dough 1-2 times to make up for the lack of mixing.
Don’t expect your first batch to come our great, bread always takes 2-3 trials of the same for you to get a hold of a recipe. Feel free to make some iterations if required.
• If in your neighbourhood store you get a bread pre-mix, it's not a bad way to start either. Once you get addicted to homemade bread you will switch from pre-mix to your own recipe. Start easy and take it one step at a time.
• If you are making a cake, ensure that your scaling is very precise, which is why I like recipes in grams.
• If you can make a chocolate ganache which is basically mixing cream and melted chocolate most shortcomings of a cake can be made up for.
Here is one of my favourite recipes…
Vanilla Pound Cake
Flour - 170 gms
Eggs - 170 gms
Baking Powder - 4 gms
Butter - 170 gms
Caster Sugar - 170 gms
Vanilla - a few drops
1. Preheat the oven for 5 mins at 180C.
2. Keep the butter at room temperature for 15 mins until it softens. Do not melt the butter.
3. Cream the butter and sugar with a whisk until double in volume and till it is pale yellow in colour.
4. Add the eggs and whisk until double in volume and also becomes pale yellow in colour.
5. Add the dry ingredients and vanilla essence.
6. Whisk until evenly incorporated.
7. Pour into the mould and bake at 180 C for 30 - 40 mins.
Edited by Asha Chowdary
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)