One loaf at a time

Light Green Oven studio is a spacious and sunny space to learn basics of baking bread in Hyderabad

February 22, 2018 02:48 pm | Updated 02:48 pm IST - Hyderabad

 Whole wheat bread and multi-grain pull aparts

Whole wheat bread and multi-grain pull aparts

The workshop was intriguingly titled ‘Sound of Dough’. The second in Shipra Chenji’s series of Bread and Breath workshops brought together two things close to her — baking and the essence of yoga. The studio where this session unfolded one Saturday morning is a house adorned with red brick outer walls, one that’s replete with old world charm. The cosy home turned studio is one of the few buildings in Secunderabad designed by Vadodara-based architect Karan Grover.

The design allows ample natural light, brightening the interiors and making the space a little more energy efficient. This baking studio doubles up as a yoga studio as well. At one end of the studio is a compact work space, with a surface to knead the breads, and small wooden racks to stock the necessary ingredients — flours, yeast, flavour additions such as dried herbs, sunflower, pumpkin and several other seeds. A kitchen next to this area serves as an additional work space.

The gas oven lies on the balcony, the red brick wall adding to its charm and the outdoor garden shielding the area from the road. Shipra equates baking to a meditative, therapeutic process and the studio seems the ideal space for it.

 Shipra Chenji

Shipra Chenji

The small group of participants arrive for the session and Shipra guides us through the basics of baking. The first step is to fight the fear of baking. As one participant wistfully expressed, she always wanted to bake and have the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the house, but inevitably ended up with burnt breads. Another participant had learnt to bake cakes, but bread remained a mystery.

Artisan bakers like Shipra and Saee Koranne-Khandekar (author of Crumbs! Bread Stories and Recipes for the Indian Kitchen ) emphatically state that one has to overcome the initial fear of baking bread and think of it is yet another form of Indian bread — the humble roti that takes on different textures in different regions of the country.

“The dough can sense fear, anxiety and every other emotion we go through and that reflects in the end product,” says Shipra. She guided the group through the making of whole wheat bread, multi-grain pull aparts, and Ciabatta. Flour, yeast, salt, butter and water are the typical ingredients one should find in bread, not additives one finds in commercially available breads.

At the studio, the attentive group gets to knead the dough, instinctively realise the end point and set the dough to rise under the sun.

 Light Green Oven studio

Light Green Oven studio

Solar energy is harnessed to enable the flour to rise quickly. When the flour is ready, put your ear closer to the dough to listen in to the minute sounds as the yeast is at work. This, describes the Sound of Dough.

Through the three-hour session, there are plenty of ajwain nibbles that are a cross between cookies and matri , washed down with fresh cold press juice of watermelon, beets, pomegranate, mint and more.

The workshop is all about using recipes as guides without abiding by them 100%, allowing for flexibility.

As we wait for the breads to bake, Shipra makes room for gentle stretches and breathing, pointing out how she and other participants of Masterchef India used these movements to de-stress during day-long sessions.

The sunny studio is a happy space as one gorges on fresh breads generously slathered with butter, home-made hummus, tzatziki, apple jam, khow suey, and chickpeas and greens salad.

(For more, check or Facebook page of Light Green Oven.)

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