Mehta says she ends up baking once a week or at least once in 10 days. With a nifty machine that allows her to bake enough bread for her nine-member family, Mehta enjoys experimenting. Mexican and Italian breads, banana bread, red chilli bread, garlic bread, olive bread and even jalapeño bread are some varieties that she has tried out. “The machine takes three to four hours to bake a batch. I prepare the dough the night ahead, so that it can rise. In the morning, I simply pop it into the machine. Sometimes, I mix refined flour in whole wheat flour but I prefer brown bread to white; it’s healthier,” says Mehta. Giving a neat tip for other enthusiastic bakers, she adds, “I use butter instead of vegetable oil because the bread turns out better.”
Though Shahane bakes less frequently — once in a fortnight, she strongly believes that baking at home is better than buying things at a shop. The advantage, she says, is in being able to pick the ingredients oneself. “Most commercial breads including brown bread have maida. At home, I make brown bread with 100 per cent whole wheat and sometimes with jowar,” she says. Among the many things that she bakes, her family and friends most enjoy the Jewish Challah — a sweet bread with eggs that is traditionally eaten by Jews before the Sabbath begins — and the soft oval-shaped rolls called Kentish Huffkins, eaten with jam or butter. Shahane says she does it all with her hands, just the way her mother used to. “It’s not necessary to bake with a machine unless you bake a lot,” she adds.
Anthony also bakes every two or three weeks because it is cheaper to bake at home. “The only problem is that it is time-consuming, so I am not able to do it more often,” she says.
Sahane agrees and adds that even when using superior ingredients, homemade bread is cheaper. “If you bake six loaves or so in one batch, the cost is reduced to half the amount,” she says. Shahane also gives away a secret: “I always use fresh yeast; the bread rises better.”