Loave this art

Updated: May 29, 2020, 08:39 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

People around the world are baking gardens, bouqets and even mandalas on focaccia. Taking a cue, two Mumbai chefs tell us how to get creative with bread.

The kitchen has undoubtedly emerged as one of the most creative spaces in the home in the past couple of months. After Dalgona coffee, banana bread and pancake cereal, people are channelling their inner artist by creating focaccia bread art. The classic Italian bread is thus getting a makeover with gardens and bouquets fashioned out of olive, bell pepper, spring onion, tomato, and other vegetables and herbs. Inspired by the artist Vincent Van Gogh, a Massachusetts-based baker, Teri Culetto, has even titled her bread art Van Dough. Two Mumbai-based chefs, who tried their hand at the trend, share their experiences.

Garden of herbs

Needa Khan, head pastry chef at Chantilly The Café, Bandra, feels that the bread art trend is here to stay. "It is a fabulous way to channel your creativity. You can add herbs, greens, spices, cheese, or even protein. This recipe is a variation of focaccia Genovese, a flatbread that is soft and chewy on the inside, and has a beautiful olive oil crust on the bottom and top," she shares.

Needa Khan/
Needa Khan

Cooking time: 2 hours
Yield: One large 9"x13" tray

Ingredients

For the infused oil:

  • 120 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 to 10 garlic pods (chopped)
  • For the dough:
  • 230 gm lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 380 gm all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 tbsp flour to knead
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 60 gm infused garlic oil
  • Choice of herbs/greens
  • (Khan used cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and olives for the flowers, and spring onions and fresh rosemary for the stems and branches)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the garlic until it softens; do not let it brown. Empty the oil and garlic into a jar; allow it to cool down and then refrigerate. Let it infuse overnight, or maybe over two to three days. Sift the flour and salt in a stand-mixer bowl (or a large mixing bowl, if you're kneading by hand) and make a well in the centre. Add lukewarm water, yeast and sugar; let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes till foamy. Add 60 gm of the infused garlic oil and start kneading, with a dough-hook or with greased hands. The dough will be sticky. Add the remaining three to four tbsp of flour and continue kneading for 15 to 20 minutes till it is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover it with cling-film or a wet cloth and let it proof until it doubles in size. Proofing time depends on your ambient weather. In a humid city such as ours, it takes 30 to 45 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Take a tray or dish and grease it with some garlic oil. Punch the dough down and transfer it to the dish, spread it out and make dimples in it with your fingers. Brush the dough with the remaining garlic oil; arrange your greens and herbs like a bouquet atop the dough. Use lots of colourful vegetables, sprinkle pepper and then let it proof for 15 more minutes. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Take the bread out and sprinkle sea salt. Serve it with warm olive oil or a cheese dip, use it to make sandwiches or just sprinkle some parmesan and eat it plain.

Mandala time

pic

Chef Ishijyot Surri, executive chef, Pachinco Café, says his sweet bun bread art is inspired by mandala art. "It's also inspired by our very own bun maska. Instead of baking breakfast breads using Danish pastry, which generally has a cherry on top, I've used fruits such as kiwi, pineapple and orange to make the mandala,"
he adds.

Total cooking time: 2.5 hours
Yield: 950 gm

Ingredients

  • 1 kg maida
  • 60 gm sugar
  • 10 gm salt
  • 25 gm yeast
  • 450 gm water
  • 20 gm butter
  • 50 gm oil
  • 3 to 4 pineapple slices
  • 50 gm canned cherries
  • 1 kiwi (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 orange slice

Method

pic

Soak the yeast in water along with sugar and a handful of maida. Let it ferment for 45 minutes. Sieve the rest of the maida. Mix the maida and salt, add the prepared yeast-sugar mixture and butter, and knead it. Add some oil when it's nearly kneaded. Proof it for 45 minutes. Knead it again to flush out the excess air. At this stage, add the fruits and arrange them to make the desired design. Here, the pineapple slices are thinly sliced with cherries on top in an outer circle to make it look like a mandala, while a kiwi is sliced and arranged in another circle around the orange slice at the centre. Place the dough into a silicon or tin mould and bake it at 225 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes.

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