Thursday, 10 July 2014

Masterclass In Session: Bread-baking with Ezekiel

Bread is a staple in many cultures worldwide, found in many shapes and sizes, and enjoyed by many in different ways.

The earliest breads were said to have been made around 10,000 years ago, though some have argued that bread goes back some 30,000 years. Its presence in the cuisines of much of the world speaks of its appeal and role in the lives of many families.

Few can resist the aroma that wafts out of a bakery, the sweet scent reminiscent of caramelised sugar, butter and toasted gluten that, when inhaled, rings louder than any bell that says, "Breakfast's ready!"

Those seeking the joys of bread-making or hankering for the heady scent and taste of freshly baked goodness, take heart. Bread-baking instructor Ezekiel Ananthan brings you this masterclass in bread-making, which incorporates his experience in a New Zealand bakery and background in local cuisine.

"I've always been passionate about baking bread," Ezekiel writes. "I’m intrigued at how a few simple ingredients like flour, yeast, salt and water could combine and magically transform into something so delicious.

"Working in a New Zealand bakery that emphasised the importance of craft in baking bread changed the course of my life. The experience inspired me to start my own brand of hand-crafted artisanal bread."

Recipes abound in this volume. Learn the art (and science) of baking breads from around the world, from basics such as the classic white loaf, roti canai, baguette and ciabatta to the Japanese melon pan, Hokkaido milk loaf and deep south cornbread from the US.

Zeke (let's call him Zeke for the sake of brevity) introduces us to the main ingredients in bread, and to the steps and techniques in basic bread-making before guiding us in baking our first white loaf.

After traipsing through the world via a selection of "Asian", "European", "sweet" and "international" breads, he shares with us several recipes and custom creations. Red velvet buns and oven-baked lamb roti, anyone?

Zeke is one real bread nerd. How he talks about making pre-ferment and starters, kneading, mixing, baking and the like makes you want to dive into the action yourself. "There is no other French bread that catches the imagination like the baguette," he enthuses, "and there's also no other bread that will test bakers like the baguette."

On another French bread: "Many French breads are rich in butter and eggs, which makes them a great choice for breakfast, or to make French toast with. The brioche is no different. There have been many times while I was making the brioche that I thought to myself, 'This bread is just 20g of butter away from becoming a cake!'"

So, get acquainted with the basic ingredients in bread and the alchemy involved that transforms them into fragrant, flavourful loaves; learn to avoid the pitfalls in making your first loaf; and discover the pleasure of biting into the fruits of your labour.

You'll soon learn that bread-making can be fun – and delicious.

Home-baked Breads
Ezekiel Ananthan
MPH Group Publishing
192 pages
ISBN: 978-967-415-224-6

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