A breadwinner's tryst with the breadmaker

Last Updated 29 January 2010, 11:11 IST

Buying a wedding anniversary gift for the wife is always tricky. Deviating from the normal practice of exchanging notes before hitting the stores, this year I decided to surprise my wife with a bread machine.

Ordered on the online store e-Bay, the machine was delivered by courier in a huge box almost the size of a microwave oven.

The wife who believes the kitchen (and all its inhabitants such as the mixer, pressure cooker, grinder) is her domain, was furious about the new gadget, so what if it was a surprise gift? I had to face a rapid fire round: Why did you buy this? Where is the space in the kitchen for this whatchamacallit? Who is going to operate this complicated machine?

“I am not going to read that 20-page technical manual,” she declared.
Sensing trouble, I put up a feeble defence. “Don’t worry, I will read the manual and explain how to operate the machine,” I mumbled.

A week went by. The bread machine, shoved under a cot, was ignored. Braveheart that I am, I tiptoed in where angels fear to tread. Having committed the manual to memory, I made my first loaf of bread. It smelt divine but the texture was good enough to break someone’s head: it was as solid as rock.

The wife wore a ‘I-told-you-so’ look with ill concealed glee. Even my two daughters, who are otherwise game for adventure — culinary or otherwise, gave up after making a couple of sincere efforts to break bread with me.

Frustrated and angry, I called up the seller in Mumbai. “Why did you sell me a bread machine that produces rocks?” I hollered at him. The patient man revealed that it happened to almost every novice baker. Pacified by his reassuring words and his tip to go shopping for fresh yeast, I began to haunt the bakeries in my neighbourhood.
The bakers, unfriendly fellows, refused to sell me some fresh yeast. Refusing to be give up, I continued my pursuit till I hit pay dirt at a well-stocked department store in the posher part of the City. I also added a digital weighing machine to my shopping cart.

Keen to demonstrate the glorious qualities of my bread making machine (and to give my sagging spirits a much needed boost), I embarked on my very own adventure. This time, the appetising aroma of freshly baked bread was accompanied by a nutty brown, beautifully risen loaf. The delighted squeals of my girls proved that I had accomplished my mission.

‘If cake-making is an art, bread-making is science’, say the experts. To mix a bit of art with science, I have now ventured into many experiments with bread making. My current tally is eight different types of bread — all fingerlickin’ good. Five grain bread, sweet bread, masala bread, carrot bread, dry fruit bread, health bread...my list is growing. I have also made a few cakes with a reasonable amount of success. The aroma of baking that fills my small home is an added gain that we all cherish.
For inspired readers of this article, here’s some unsolicited advice: always use the right quality of ingredients, strictly maintain measurement of basic ingredients (it’s okay to indulge in add-ons but do not breach the basic chemistry), stringently follow the process and always remember men are better cooks than women.

Happy bread making in the new year.

(Published 29 January 2010, 11:11 IST)

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