A loaf of bread can be like a piece of art, handcrafted, fashioned with love, and a masterpiece

For those of you who love bread, and don’t view it as a dietary substitute for someone who is sick at home, and those of you who know that there could be bread apart from white and brown, I greet you. The joy of baking bread is inexplicable. If you flick it with your finger and it makes that hollow noise, or when the bread knife makes that rough sandpaper symphony on the crust, and the holes in every slice remind you of an unending cave in the jungles where secret treasures may be hidden, you have made good bread. Crusty, slightly off white in colour and extremely holey, this marvellous yet humble masterpiece can be a solo artist in a feast with just the right amount of soft salted butter, or olive oil.

The joy of eating good bread is even greater than the joy of baking it. There is a class of bread which is much different from the ubiquitous, highly refined, white, and preservative and trans fat laden assembly line bread. It is called Artisan breads. It is hand crafted with love and care, with no ingredient that will need a chemical degree to comprehend. The artisan bread maker, is like a sari weaver who knows exactly how his raw materials need to be played to get that perfect creation.

Artisan bread is rustic, crusty, totally asymmetric and yet full of flavour, character, and a plethora of natural ingredients. Instead of white and brown ask for a hundred percent whole wheat, a rye, a volkorn, or a good crusty baguette. Your artisan bread is made with passion, love and understanding of the nuances of baking.

So what can one do with bread in a shape which has no name. The truth is you need to liberate yourself from the confines of your bread prejudice which craves for standard shapes and sizes. Bite into your loaf or simply tear at it and dip it into your soup or your extra virgin olive oil for a start. If you are very particular, slice it up as thick as you want and have it with butter, or make a sandwich. Have some old bread? Pan fry it with butter and a sprinkle of salt and sugar and add it to your salad to make it complete. Laid your hands on some nice raisin bread? Dip it in cold milk and honey and experience bliss. Make a French toast, a sandwich, canapés, a bruschetta, crouton, a pudding, a Pinwheel sandwich and allow your imagination to break free.

Vishak Chandrasekaran learnt to bake bread at Cordon Bleu and has started his own café that he calls Vs, on NSR Road.