Marie Antoinette was far ahead of her time. “Let them eat cake,” would today mean “Let them eat bread”. Artisan bakers are popping out of neighbourhood ovens like hot buns during the pandemic, conjuring up scrumptious versions such as bread cakes with Oreos, coconut cream lime bread, sticky orange marmalade bread cake, chocolate syrup, vanilla, whipped cream cherry and spiced apple challahs—creating divine visions for the modern Marie. India has come late to the Bread Revolution, but now that it has, bread is equality, liberty and fraternity indeed. Bakers are taking liberties with dough to make cheese and rosemary brioches, apple cider oatmeal and classic beer breads.

Liberty is freedom from the jingle ‘Mummy Mummy Modern Bread’ which is Oh So 1960s AM Radio and to indulge in the mystic mix of a corn cheddar bubble loaf. Fraternity is bonding over bread-spotting on the shelves of huge supermarket chains such as Modern Bazaar, Delhi, and Spencer’s, Chennai, and the neighbourhood baker’s whole wheat honey oat flax bread. Shops are stocked with a range of breads Indian millennials had never seen while they were burning their toast.

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Dietitians have been horrifying people with packaged white bread stories about obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Popular alternatives? Yeasted sourdough bread made from a fermented mixture of flour and water has a soft, chewy centre crust and large air bubbles. Whole-wheat bread made from flour that has both the bran and germ contains more nutrients and fibre per slice that would have been lost in processing otherwise. Rye bread with its strong rye flavour is made mixing bread flour and rye flour with caraway or dill seeds added to give an earthy flavour.

Its crumbs do not crumble. Pastrami gets its unique flavour from rye bread. It is a Scandinavian constant that has stormed the healthy breakfast set. A single slice has two grams of fibre, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and is good for cardiac well being. The Italians have arrived in la moda with focaccia and ciabatta. Focaccia is flat bread, usually flavoured with fresh herbs and garlic with an olive oil coating to make its crust crunchy. Ciabatta is baked with wheat flour, salt, yeast and water, and is used to make sandwiches and paninis.

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard

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