Modern bread due to usage of bleached flour and addition of dough conditioners, emulsifiers and mold inhibitors is being distanced by the consumers who are health conscious. Their preference is now shifting to healthier and wholesome ingredients. The result is the increasing popularity of artisan bread. Loosely artisan bread could be designed as one which is produced by using traditional methods and ingredients. Ashok Malkani takes a look at the increasing popularity and the future of this increasingly popular delicacy
Mention the word “artisan” and people at once conjure up images of a person who endeavors to create decorative interest in the surroundings. The word literally means “one who produces something in limited quantities, often using traditional methods. It can also be applied to the food we eat.
In the modern world, artisan baking is a delicious alternative to the regular run-of-the-mill foods made on assembly lines. One often hears the word ‘artisan baker’ bandied about quite often these days. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an artisan as: “a skilled worker who makes things by hand”. This would mean that any baker with skill and experience could justifiably call himself or herself an artisan, and the bakery baking these products would be an artisan bakery.
What exactly is an artisanal baker, does he have to be specifically qualified and does the term ‘artisanal’ describe the baker or the product and process? These are questions that have been niggling the minds of the layman.
Rajat Sachdev, Pastry Chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC describes artisanal baker as “a craftsperson who is trained to bake a hand-crafted loaf of bread. Artisan is used to describing products that are produced by non-industrial methods. These products are handcrafted and are made with natural ingredients. Basically, the artisan is used to describing the process of bread making.”
Raymund Pardiwalla, Executive Chef, Gokulam Grand Hotel and Spa, Bangalore, claims, “An artisan baker is a craftsperson who is trained to the highest ability to mix; ferment, shape and bake a hand crafted loaf of bread. They incorporate the science behind the chemical reactions of the ingredients and use them to create the most optimal environment for bread to develop.
It is said that this trend is driven partly by families being keen to get back into the kitchen and cook for themselves. According to my opinion, it is based on the skill that you possess and the quality of the product you produce.”
Daniel Koshy, Executive Chef, JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru, believes that Artisan basically defines the baker who has the required skills to produce an artistic or artisanal product and the product would then be called an artisanal product.
He adds, “They have to be qualified both in skill sets and job knowledge. For example, in France, to make rye bread with more than 70% rye flour, you require a license. This is because the French government feels that a Chef with that license alone could produce a product which does justice to the product.”
Feroz Patel, Head chef, Fairfield by Marriott Pune Kharadi, avers,” Artisan bread is best described by thinking about the person who makes the bread. An artisan baker is a craftsperson who is trained to the highest ability to mix, ferment, shape and bake a handcrafted loaf of bread.”
Waqar Ahmed, Pastry Chef, Hi l ton Bangalore Embassy GolfLinks, stresses that Artisanal baker is an individual who mixes both science and craft to bake bread “that is handcrafted, without machines and implements i.e. made in small batches. The bakers have to be specifically trained to knead, ferment, shape and bake a handcrafted loaf of bread.
The term ‘artisan’ defines the baker, the product and the process as there is no involvement of machines.”
Namal Kalubowila, Pastry Chef, Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, Sri Lanka, iterates, “Artisanal bakery is all about one’s personal skills and inclination to bake an out of the box specialty. It has hardly anything to do with the qualification of a baker, but more with the patience and passion towards the idea of fresh baking while the rest of the world demands quickly to produce. If a baker can present a distinct, handcrafted baked item, this skill alone can become a unique selling point for her/ him, and create a market for them.
An artisanal baker’s produce is authentic, and the taste definitely stands out. The time required for artisanal baking is high owing to the manual technique, devoid of machinery. The aroma, golden texture and crisp crust of artisan bread are significant factors that differentiate it from normal baking. A plain machine-made bread generally includes preservatives, which increase its shelf life. Artisan baked goods have a lower shelf life since they are chemical and preservatives free.”
Yash Mathur, Executive Sous Chef, Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, states, “An artisan baker is a craftsperson who understands the ingredients, chemical reactions and all other conditions required for making bread. Artisan means craftsperson and hence defines the baker as he decides the outcome of the raw ingredients.
There is no specific qualification required to become an artisanal baker, however, one must be trained and must be well versed in the understanding of all ingredients and baking techniques.”
The first question that a layman would want to know is what is artisanal bread? How is it different from the regular bread? Are the materials used in it different? These questions are bound to leave you flabbergasted. Research shows that artisanal bread is different from the traditional one in several ways.
Rajat reveals, “Artisan bread is short shelf life bread made by an artisan baker who is specialized in bread-making. An artisan baker is highly skilled in this field. As the saying goes, “It’s not a science but an art as well,” hence one can understand the skill an artisan baker will require in terms of measuring the ingredients to perfection, carving the loaf into their various forms and finally preparing the high quality baked products using the traditional methods of baking.
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