Before 2005, I appreciated good bread but I wouldn’t say that I was crazy about bread.
Then, through a common acquaintance, I met T, and things changed.
T taught me how to make bread by hand.
I marvelled at the science involved in the entire process of bread making to provide the best environment for the yeast to work with the other ingredients.
I noted how meticulous T was, always using a digital scale to weigh each ingredient, and a thermometer to ensure that the liquids were of the right temperature (30C).
T taught me how to knead the dough by hand. We took turns to knead non-stop for a good 15-20 minutes, until the dough passed the window-pane test so that the dough would be of the right elasticity for the bread to rise evenly.
During the first rising (40 mins), a cling wrap was used to cover the dough while it doubled in size. In the cold months, this would take place in a warm water bath of 32-33C. T would stick a finger into the middle of the dough and if the depression remained, the first rising would be completed.
Next, the dough was divided into smaller pieces and allowed to rest for 20 minutes (benchtime). T would weigh each dough piece to ensure that they would all be the same size.
The next step involved pressing out the air in each piece of dough, and shaping the pieces into buns followed by a second rising (20 mins). A conducive environment at this stage would be to cover the buns with a piece of thick cloth and to have a moist cloth over.
Finally, egg wash was brushed all over the top of the buns and off they went into the oven (180C) to be baked for 15 minutes.
The entire process took no less than 3 hours.
On days when we had the luxury of time to have tea-time together, we would make side dishes or desserts (while waiting for the bread to rise) to accompany our freshly baked bread.
The dining hall would ring of our delighted voices as we enjoy the ‘bread’ of our labour, and the air would be filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread.
T’s passion for bread had influenced me to come to truly love and appreciate good bread. Even after she had moved to another part of the country, I would attempt to make bread on my own, recalling all the hands-on techniques that she had taught me, and following the notes that she had written.
It all started as a curious meeting to make some fresh bread, yet something in me blossomed into a love for bread, and between T and I, there is a friendship that has lasted half a decade across the oceans.
Today, our passion for bread making is still bubbling in our separate kitchens and T continues to spur me on to try new recipes and to keep baking.
台所 From the kitchen comes
美味しいにおい the delicious aroma
手捏ねパン of hand kneaded bread