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Love fresh bread? Buy from a home chef

Be it Goan paos, croissants or good old sourdough, home chefs have mastered the art of baking bread 

Fresh bread. (Youjeen Cho, Unsplash)

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“The Great Recession of 2008 coincided with the rise in the cupcake industry. Something similar happened in the pandemic with sourdough and banana bread taking off,” notes Delhi-based home baker Radhika Bountra. The former PR executive launched her venture Mood Patisserie in the pandemic to offer burger buns, baos and decadent chocolate cakes, cookies and brownies.

Home bakers, like Bountra, noticed people stopped making sourdough at home after a few attempts, but the yearning for freshly baked breads—and cakes—remained. To fulfil this need, there has been a proliferation of professional home bakers who churn out not only sourdough, but also the flakiest of croissants, custard pies and pillowy soft pull-apart buns. It is not all butter and cream, for there is a growing demand for low calorie, gluten-free and vegan options too.

Delhi-based professional home baker Rewati Rau, who has been running Bikku Bakes since 2015 says, “We’ve entered the third year of the pandemic and it’s safe to say there has been a rebirth of home bakers. Some of my regular clients got into baking like never before. Work-from-home offered the time to not only bake, but also cherish the joy of eating oven-fresh goodies. Perhaps people got used to freshly baked and chemical-free stuff which motivated professional home bakers to make bread. While my home bakery saw many more takers, I myself experimented a lot and almost eliminated store-bought goodies. It’s been more than a year since we bought a loaf of bread from the market.” For her clients, she got innovative and introduced palak paneer buns, whole wheat beetroot crackers, vegetable and cheese bread, among others, all sealed with homemade warmth.

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Customers veer towards bakers known for small-batch baking for reasons like freshness, trust and better quality. Mumbai-based Aseem Arun Hattangadi, founder of The Travel Therapist—whose forte lies in chalking out itineraries that highlight unique travel experiences—started his bread baking initiative Bread Zeppelin, in the pandemic. “Back in May 2020 with no travels happening and just to keep my mind sane and occupied, I undertook a bread-baking class. Then I started baking bread for my family every week. I soon moved to experimenting with flours—whole wheat, ragi, khapli, jowar, black wheat and more—completely eliminating the use of all-purpose flour. Friends started reaching out and soon word of mouth spread and I founded my bread-baking venture on August 1, 2020,” he says.

People who love the taste of unadulterated whole wheat baking or multigrain bread reach out to him. “I’m addicted to rock music. I generally bake in the mornings with the radio playing retro rock. It is my happy space. So I decided to name my venture Bread Zeppelin. I also took a sourdough baking class in Bengaluru. I’m now trying to experiment with sourdough, but whether I take sourdough baking forward commercially remains to be seen,” says the travelpreneur, who takes orders on @thatpunnyboy, Instagram. 

Some home bakers are experimenting with regional breads, such as paos of Goa. Bengaluru’s Whattaypao, run by home baker Alisha Da Lima Leitao who hails from Goa, specialises in stuffed paos with fillings like the mouth-watering spicy chicken cafreal, recheado smoked feijoada, and vegetarian xacuti. These small batch baked goodies, with a changing menu, are limited to weekends.

There is the added advantage of made-to-order or customisations suited to client’s food preferences. Bountra shares, “Each home baker talks to his or her clients, and more often than not, repeat clients sometimes become like family.”

Also read | A recipe of eggless chocolate cookies

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