Pat-a-cake Pat-a- cake Baker’s man!
So I will , Master , as fast as I can:
Pat it , and prick it , and mark it with T,
Put in the oven for Tommy and me .
Cooking is a quest !!!
Baking is therapeutic .
But baking was not for me. I always avoided baking as if I am a recluse of traditional cooking .The oven silently took rust in one of the kitchen cabinets. No home made cakes when such wonderful yummy cakes are available at the Baker’s Basket. And very reasonable too.
Whenever anyone mentioned about home made cakes I would humbly nod and say ‘’ no , no I don’t do any baking ‘’ . I considered weighing out the ingredients precisely for baking is not my style of cooking. I love to add the right amount of spices dreamily into the curries without actually measuring them. The language of baking was unknown to me.
Then came the lock down and neighbors became quite friendlier than how they used to be before. Across the fencing we started a camaraderie of the ancient barter system . I would pass a katori of mango pickles through a gap in the fence and after one or two days the katori will be returned across the fencing with a different curry from their kitchen. This is something I loved .
Then one day my neighbor Roshni gave me a piece of chocolate cake she baked for her wedding anniversary . Very soft and velvety and looked so beautiful. She said she is an expert in baking cakes.
That is amazing , baking a wonderful chocolate cake for her wedding anniversary during lock down!!!
This incident actually inspired me to take a look at the old oven in my kitchen . I decided to try out some baking. But there is always this tiny voice saying ‘’Don’t do,” “You are not at it,’’ ‘’You will end up wasting ingredients’’ etc.
But then there is another Divine voice which is calm and compelling saying’ ‘Take one step at a time’’ And I always did that. I always took that ‘’one step’’ forward, willing to take failure also as a lesson in the curriculum. By Divine Grace , this decision always helped me in learning new things.
First I dared to make baked vegetables and it came out very well. Then I made garlic bread toast. And it turned excellent. Now I became less hostile towards the oven, I started trusting it. Still baking a loaf of bread was not even in my wildest of dreams.
One beautiful morning I woke up quite early and walked into my kitchen. Suddenly I was distracted by this familiar aroma of bread which was kept in the kitchen. Today it felt different . As if it was trying to get my attention. It was trying to tell me a new story, the story of Baking. Following this fragrance trail I reached the wonderland of baking. I started browsing different stories of baking ,its origin and many videos on baking bread. The videos showed how loving and subtle this process of baking was. How delicate and fluffy the batter looked and how happy people looked baking a bread. I was soon enveloped in the Hygge of baking a bread.
I read about ‘’the Little Book Of Hygge ‘’ for the first time from One Of Swamiji’s Blogs . I had searched about the word Hygge after that. I also read some portions from ‘’the little book of Hygge’’ from Crossword. But the feeling of ‘’Hygge’’ was yet to happen to me.
After watching few You Tube videos I charted out a plan. All the ingredients were in my kitchen.
I kept them all neatly on the kitchen counter . And slowly started to do this wonderful act of baking a bread. Contrary to my fears it was quite easy.
First two table spoons of dry yeast was taken and mixed it with half cup water , one tsp of cooking oil , a pinch of salt and a spoonful of sugar. I allowed it to stand for proofing. This takes almost five minutes. Now added 4 cups of refined flour and mixed gently to a soft dough. This was covered with a clean cotton cloth . The dough was allowed to rest for one hour to ferment and rise . After one hour the dough is taken out flattened lightly and gently kneaded once again. Now we can shape the bread. You can divide this dough into two portions and shape it if you have two loaf tins. I was not having loaf tins so I decided to keep in round shape only. Patted some more flour on top and my dough was ready to be baked.
I had kept my baking tray ready, smeared with a coat of butter and flour . I had preheated the oven for 20 minutes at 200 c . I placed my fluffy dough gently in the oven set for 20 minutes and at 200 c. It was an of unwinding as the anxieties melted. I quietly resumed my other works.
After 20 minutes the oven beeped and lo behold my tiny round bread is ready to roll out.
The kitchen was smelling divine. I gently took out my bread in wonder and excitement. The fresh smell of baked bread gently wafted out from the oven , instantly filling the air with a mood of harvest and countryside, a mood of Joy and celebration. This is it, I am experiencing The Hygge of baking a bread.
I controlled my urge to cut it and see how well it cooked from inside and to take a bite . First I must click it. A Food Photographer’s food always get cold beyond imagination. My cute little bread sat there smugly on the small table soaking in the morning light. A beauty to behold. I clicked it from all angles and then cut it. It was just perfect . Beautiful inside and beautiful outside. A slice of joy !!! Baking is indeed therapeutic !
Here is one You Tube link for beginners in baking : https://youtu.be/nEEd8RsjujA