Wed, 21 Aug, 2019

Baking your own bread

Reviving the Goan tradition of baking your daily bread at home, Alison Jane Lobo managed to teach the art to over 400 plus home bakers in two years and her list is getting bigger

05th January 2019, 03:13 Hrs


Ever tired of waiting at your doorstep for the morning-evening honking of the local poder to get your daily quota of hot Goan bread? No worries! You can bake your own bread at home as and when you wish to dig your teen in it. Many are already into the task, thanks to Alison Jane Lobo who tried her hands on it and eventually learnt the art of baking bread. When her trial-n-error experiments succeeded in getting a perfectly golden brown loaf on her dinner plate, the extremely delighted Alison decided to teach the art to others.   

“I tried mixing my dove two years ago and after multiple experiments arrived at the right proportion of ingredients,” admits Alison who had never, ever in her life even dreamt to bake bread! An ex-air hostess who grounded in Goa after she delivered twins, Alison’s wait period for her ‘poder’ became lengthier day by day and after being regularly irregular, he finally stopped honking at her doorstep. As the family couldn’t do without bread, they tried driving down to the local bakery to fetch hot pav, oonde or poie. But unfortunately this bakery succumbed too. Falling prey to land developing it soon breathed its last.   

Alison was perplexed. The baker vanished, and bakery died. She desperately wanted the daily quota of bread for her family. “I recalled my father experimenting a lot and finally managing to discover the secret of making the dough rise. It was a great event when he made bread for the first time. He coaxed me to try a hand at it which I didn’t, then. But it was high time to try it. So I worked on it and finally figured it out,” smiles Alison who was not a chef and never did any course in baking but the closing of local bakery provoked her to be a baker herself.   

Realising that yeast, the mystery fungus, is the genesis of bread which has fascinated minds for centuries, Alison tried using different types of yeast available locally. After lot of experimentation, failures and successes, she managed to get this humble living organism work for her. “It was thrilling to see the dough expand, a dream come true. My trays were now full of blooming loaves and when I put them in my home oven it worked. The house was full of the aroma of freshly baked bread. My house suddenly became the ‘house of the rising buns’ and my experiments continued,” shares Alison who wanted to try healthier options in flour - like whole wheat flour, nachni (ragi) etc to make Goan oonde, poie of two types (yeast and toddy), sweet buns, kataryache pav, paozinho stuffed, sliced bread and cinnamon bread etc.   

Then one day it dawned upon her that if she shared her newfound formula with others, it may help revive the dying art of baking bread traditionally. She thought of taking workshops ‘Ally’s Goencho Pao classes’ at home to teach others and was amazed at the response to her advertisement and social media uploads.   

“Goans from all over - Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Canada, Dubai, UK and Portugal, began calling me. It included homemakers, hoteliers, pastry outlet owners, fashion designers and simple everyday people including children. Initially I was nervous as I had never attended any professional course myself and didn’t know from where to start. But I learnt that skill too. I planned and worked out a dummy course where I went through all that would transpire on the day of my first course,” she states.   

Alison had to fit in the seven basic tenets of bread making - mixing ingredients, kneading the dough, forming the loves, first rise, second rise, shaping the bread in traditional Goan style and finally baking. It was an excellent start. She conducted her classes well. Her students on WhatsApp group share their experiences and innovations, some hoteliers plan to introduce Goan breads in their menu, another student is setting up a factory to produce Goencho pav. “What more do you need?” asks Alison. If people call her for orders she happily passes them to her students. “For me, the feeling that I could give a new lease of life to the dying tradition of baking Goencho pav and in the process gave birth to a new genre of ‘poders’, is more satisfying and satiating,” she concludes.   

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