To Live, Love and Learn: A Cookworm's Tale
Baking bread with other people and for other people is a lot of fun. Usually, my mother helps out with the process and makes it interesting in her own way. She is creative, but after a lifetime of cooking for her family, she does tend to get a tad impatient. There have been times when she had a lot of fun while we were shaping the dough, but wouldn’t waste more time letting the shaped dough ‘prove’ further. The bread comes out fine every time though, which just makes me wonder whether I should be more impatient too!
Nearly two years ago, we decided to do a combo of different shapes and flavors. For one batch of small bread buns, we added chopped green chillies and lime zest to the basic bread dough (see https://shreyagoswami7.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/breaking-bread-basic-breads/). For the next batch, we added rosemary and garlic to the basic bread dough, and shaped the bread like knots.
Of course, as usual, my mother didn’t want to waste time proving the bread. And obviously, the bread still came out fine, and I mean both batches.
Really…MOTHERS! How do they do it?!
But does the same trick work for me? No. Every time I am impatient while baking I make the worst mistakes during the most important stages. So I’ve just taken it into my stride…perfection through impatience is something mothers excel at, not 25 year old enthusiasts who bake for fun!
Once I learned that lesson, it has been easy going. I still get things wrong though. Last summer I decided to do something for my cousin who would be visiting for a day. I divided the basic dough into two parts, made a pig out of one and a turtle out of the other. I used chopped carrots for eyes and conveniently forgot that baking carrots would lead to dehydration.
Obviously, the eyes turned out smaller than intended! And the pig’s nose went all wrong. My cousin thought it was a teddy bear! Thankfully, the turtle looked pretty much like a turtle. *whew!
Things have definitely gotten better over time. Before traveling back to New Delhi from Kolkata in March earlier this year, I decided to bake some special bread for my friends. For the first bread I made a basic dough, divided it into two strands, twisted them together and then made a coil out of the long twisted dough. I gave it a sesame seed topping, but no egg wash (baking for vegetarian friends can be difficult at times).
Next I used basic dough and shaped it like a honeycombe bread with egg wash and alternating poppy and sesame seed topping. This was probably the prettiest bread I have ever baked!
The conclusion of all these efforts? Mothers might have the perfect blend of impatience and perfection which makes them a rare variety of genius. But we 20-somethings can be a different variety of genius too…the crazy ones with flour, yeast and imagination!