April 17, 2013

Bread Baking at Lavonne

My Mum is probably the best bread baker in Bangalore, and yet all my life I've never learnt from her. We eat homemade bread every breakfast. Many Friday afternoons, she bakes cinnamon rolls, coconut rolls, vegetable stuffed buns and plaits, and pizzas and foccacia. The list goes on. But, after watching and eating all this, I still had my first bread making class from someone else. 

Lavonne Institute of Baking Science invited food bloggers for a special workshop on bread making. It ended up just being Swapna, my Mum and I for the class. Chef Avin, along with some help from his students taught us a variety of things. 

We started off with the soft breads-Rolls, Zoph and Foccacia. The Zoph has an interesting history. In ancient Switzerland, the widowed wives used to cut off their plaited hair to place beside their deceased husband. Later the plaited bread (zoph) was kept instead of cutting off their hair. 

We were given the required ingredients and after mixing together began the tiresome kneading process. No bread machine or Kenwood Chef to do that for us. It seemed like ages and slightly discouraging having the chef inspect every few minutes and saying, 'No, not soft enough!' Great workout for those upper arms. After what seemed like years, the dough reached it's perfect state of elasticity and was ready to shape. We rolled out one batch into 30g balls and then rolled out into 15cm lengths before twisting together to form little knots. The zoph and rolls were finished off with an egg wash and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Plenty of olive oil was mixed into the foccacia dough and then was generously topped with sun dried tomato paste, fried onions, garlic and herbs and some black olives.

They were all left to rise before being sent away to bake in the oven. Soon the smells of baking bread wafted into the room. And not long after, we got to sample fresh and extremely soft bread (the kneading paid off).

While the first batch was baking, we moved on to three types of hard breads- spindle shaped rolls, L'Epi and Fougasse. We combined the ingredients and then it was back to the  kneading. 

L'Epi is a usually baked during the harvest festival. The shape of the bread is meant to represent a ear of wheat. The dough is rolled out and then rolled over a mixture of grain and seeds. Then it is cut and pulled out to form the shape of the ear of wheat.

The Fougasse also has an interesting history. A typically flat bread, holes are cut into it, and once baked it was hung outside homes in ancient Rome to scare away ghouls. The dough is rolled out almost like a chapatti and then random holes are cut into it and then pulled apart.

Last of all, we made spindle shaped hard rolls. They were rolled into balls and then into spindles. 

The spindles are left to rest for a while while the yeast begins it's work. When they have risen , they are dusted with flour and then a slit is cut across the top and butter is piped in. 

Into the oven they went. We had a tour of the academy while we waited. Had some refreshing ice tea, well-deserved after all that kneading. :)

Before long, the next batch of bread was done. Warm bread + butter = Perfect.

We baked enough to take home for supper and the leftovers for breakfast too with a bit of babaganoush and pesto. It was great fun, but I think I prefer cake baking to breads. Bread will always be my Mum's department. 

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; 
and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”  
― James Beard


Joel Louzado said...

Would've been harder to knead while also working the camera i expect... :p

Looks brilliant stuff, especially the spindle ones. :)

Tanisha Christo said...

Haha. I kept taking breaks from the kneading to take pictures. :)

And thanks, they tasted even better than they looked.