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November 24, 2009

Baking bread

I got interested in baking bread a couple of years ago when I had come across Andrew Whitley’s book, “Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own” in the magazine Resurgence. While I was curious, I stayed away from buying a copy since it seemed expensive and I was not sure about my interest in baking.
Later, chatting with a friend about whole wheat bread options in Bangalore, we talked about Daily Bread. Among other things, they sell a brown bread and a whole wheat bread. I had looked up the ingredients of brown bread (which appears to be white flour with a little whole wheat flour and some coloring agent that turns the bread miraculously brown!), wasn’t impressed and had naively assumed that the whole wheat bread was made of what it was meant to be made of. After this chat, I looked up the ingredients and was surprised at how many chemicals were listed. Also, it wasn’t clear how much whole wheat was actually present. So I just went off bread for many months.
I love to eat bread with my tea, especially bread toasted with butter. I missed my toast. The cuppa wasn’t as much fun anymore. So I decided to move my butt and bake my own. My first whole wheat recipe was from a friend’s sister-in-law and I baked a small loaf, so solid that cutting it was not easy. Apparently she meant it when she said the dough should be sloppier than the regular roti-dough we mix. I had ignored that point and did not like sticky hands, so the loaf was a brick. The next one was better but it still wasn’t fun with tea (that was my goal – to bake bread that I can have with my tea :)).
Around this time, I visited the bakery in Auroville and got a chance to watch them knead and bake. It was good to see how hydrated the dough needs to be, as I was still making doughs that were less hydrated. Then I bought a copy of Whitley’s book and bread making apart, it makes a good read about the state of bread today. I got attached to one particular sponge-and-dough recipe that uses very little yeast and an overnight sponge. The bread turned out tasty. And the breads have been turning out quite tasty over time. I recently got myself a couple of Reinhart's books and they've got some nice whole wheat/grain breads as well. And most of them go so well with my tea - life is good :)
Here are some pictures from my baking experiments:
One of my better first breads

Post-Auroville Bakery

From Whitley's book
Mushroom bread From Reinhart's books. Scoring is fun and you can create your art on the bread
Signature, artisan bread - observe my 'a' Bread and tea - life is good.


J said...

Ymmy Yummy! Have a feeling in my tummy and it could be...hunger!

vallabh said...

sanjeev bhai, results of ur primary baking experiments are looking good, i m giving 34 % marks (passing marks in advance).rest after testing (at ur kitchen)....vallabh

Kiran&Jaya said...

Awesome Anita !! Yummy Yummy. I would love to bake my bread one day.

rutuja said...

wow.......i am left jealous and motivated.
i am just back from france and loved the bread there. wish i could make my own. could you send me a recipe? it will essentially need a microwave, right?

Wishlist lady said...

Hey Ani - these loaves look amazing. I am glad that you're enjoying bread making. looks like Sanjeev is having fun with it too :-) Reinhart's book is fabulous. I am so tempted to buy it. I have tried out his sour dough recipe and I am hoping to try the bagel recipe out over some weekend in the near future.
Good to see you looking well.

Ratnesh & Aditi Geniekids said...

too love to bake bread - i used ot bake bread almost 15 many years back when all you used to get was milk bread in the market. My fav is garlic bread and pudhina bread. - Would borrow some recipe from you and bake few.

Ashis said...

looks delicious...

Suganya said...

I read your blog and couldn't resist leaving a comment. Those breads looked yummy. Which baking oven do you use?