Food: Bread making is simple, if you have faith in yourself, says bread expert Payaal Guptae

A knife slices through the warm, yellow circle that has just arrived. Steam rises. The heady odour of newly baked bread wafts through the room. An almost imperceptible sigh arises from onlookers.

Corn Bread. Native to America. Warm, spicy, heart-warming. I bite into a piece—the corn-encrusted crust that gives way to butter-soft interior is simply delicious.

“This particular bread blends beautifully with anything and everything,” says Bread Expert Ms. Payaal Guptae who is conducting a bread-making workshop at Vivanta by Taj, MG Road. Bread is one of the oldest known foods still in existence and versions of it are staple components of nearly every civilization’s diet. Yet it isn’t the easiest thing to make—or so we all think, opting instead to opt for cellophane wrapped loaves from department stores.

Payaal, a pastry chef from Le Cordon Bleu. dispels that illusion-“ I used to be very scared of making bread too but when I worked in the Taj kitchen, I was forced into it and realized that it was a lot more fun than anything else. It is a science and if you understand a few things about it, baking is very fulfilling.”

Her passion for bread is evident as she swirls her hand through flour—mixing, kneading and shaping it into loaves. Ciabatta and rye bread. baguettes and croissants. pretzels and sour dough. Focaccia and pumpernickel. There is something for everyone. “People are now more exposed to different kinds of bread,” she says. “They like to experiment.”

Some of the key things that count while making bread? “See that everything is together so that you are not scrabbling around for things during the baking process. Use cold water while mixing most bread except the ones that say otherwise. Knead the bread thoroughly so as to release the carbon dioxide, failing which the texture of the bread gets affected and holes are formed. And yes, you must have complete trust in yourself and keep trying till you get it right,” she says.

And what according to her is the perfect bread? “Well perfection is relative and depends on the kind of bread,” she says. “You need to know what it must feel like, what to pair it with, the right time to serve it. I guess you need to feel good when you eat it—that’s all that matters.”