All your kneads

Updated: Apr 16, 2020, 09:03 IST | Phorum Dalal | Mumbai

The staples to bake oven-fresh bread and cookies are right there in your pantry. What are you waiting for?

With the lockdown being extended, the rush to bag essentials is seeing a surge, and with it a shortage of supplies is also likely to happen. In such times, it might not be such a bad idea to try baking your own bread and cookies at home, and we've got you the right recipes to make them with minimum ingredients and time. If you are a newbie to baking, don't fret if you don't have mixing bowls or loaf tins. "Use a traditional 'paraat' to knead your dough; make a free-standing rustic boule and bake it on a steel thali if you need to!" advises Saee Khandekar, food chronicler and author of Pangat and Crumbs.

Baking rules
All Khandekar suggests is to follow a recipe (whether you find it online or in print) that has been written for Indian conditions. "The heat and humidity in tropical countries like India, especially as we enter peak summer, is vastly different, and the success of your bread greatly depends on these factors," she explains. Khandekar shares a few easy-peasy guidelines: Under-kneading is always better than over-kneading. When in doubt, stick to the recipe and ingredients, pinch off a small portion of the prepared dough and refrigerate it. Adding this to your next bake will improve its flavour and texture greatly.

Saee Khandekar
Saee Khandekar

Khandekar goes on to reveal that almost any bread recipe can be made using maida and/or atta. "If you don't have bran, simply sieve your atta; the brown sawdust like substance you find left in the sieve is bran. If you don't have fresh yeast, use active dried yeast, but if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of fresh, substitute it with 1 and a 1/4 teaspoons of dried. If you have instant yeast, you may use it in the same quantity as the fresh. If your local paowallah or Iyengar bakery is still operational, request them for a little bit of fresh yeast," says Khandekar. With the bread needs sorted, it is time to sort out the cookie stock.

Cookie for President
Neha Sethi, founder of Sweetish House Mafia, sure loves her cookies and gives simple hacks for baking at home. "You can make store-quality cookies if you stick to rules. Baking is a science," she says. For example, the ingredients may tell you to use melted, chilled or soft butter. Be mindful of the oven temperature and weight of ingredients. She leaves us with tips: cookies don't need to be pressed down before baking; if your dough is too wet, place it in the fridge for a few minutes until it's firm and then use.

Irish soda bread

Irish soda bread

Kainaz Messman, chef-founder of Theobroma, shares this recipe that she adapted from one by master baker Paul Hollywood. "It requires the simplest ingredients, without the use of moulds or tins, yeast and proving (waiting) either," says Messman.

225 gm white flour (maida)
225 gm wholemeal flour (chapati atta)
5 gm baking soda 40 gm castor sugar (fine- grain sugar)
75 gm softened butter
270 ml milk 30 ml (2 tbsp) dahi or yogurt
10 gm oats for sprinkling

Kainaz Messman

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Mix all ingredients together and knead into a dough. Shape into a ball, press to flatten a little, and cut a cross on the top with a knife. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown and transfer onto a wire rack to cool. Keep your eyes on the oven while baking; it may need a few minutes more or less.

Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies

1/2 cup softened butter 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (if you don't have this, use white sugar instead)
1 egg or egg substitute (2 tbsp water, 1 tsp vegetable oil and 2 tsp baking powder)
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips/chunks

Neha Sethi
Neha Sethi

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Beat the butter, add in both sugars and beat until soft and creamy. To the mixture, beat in the egg (or substitute) and vanilla essence (optional). Add the flour and baking soda to the mixture, and mix until just combined. Add in the chocolate chips. Do not over-mix. Take 2 tablespoons of dough at a time and roll into balls (approx 1.5" diameter). Place 2 inches apart on butter paper/aluminium foil — if the dough is too sticky to work with, put it in. Bake for seven to eight minutes until golden brown. Take out of oven and cool for 10 minutes before popping one in.

Order your bread

Yazdani Bakery
At Kandewadi, Charni Road East, Ambewadi, Girgaum. Call 66395742

Sassanian Bakery
AT 98, Marine View, 1st Marine Street, Cross Road, Dhobi Talao. Call 22098001

Magazine Street Kitchen
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La Folie products are available at their Mahalaxmi outlet, and on Scootsy

Saee Khandekar

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