Saturday, May 3, 2014

Getting a baker's dozen at EIGHTH!


I love to read. I attempt to write. I gym –erratically. Like to watch movies. See plays. Time and again get addicted to television. But cooking? Baking? Ummm…. No… er... not exactly me. I bake: occasionally. The 'occasion' being those rare moments when I feel like it, have the time, have the inclination, have the ingredients AND want to do it.

So why did I find myself in a baking class one warm Saturday morning with several other (might I say, dedicated, interested and accomplished) eager learners? They were accomplished bakers, enthusiastic homemakers, young aspirants. Me? I went with my camera! And was wielding a pen instead of a spatula. Oops!

Why was I there?

It was the Eighth. Not the date. The name. Eighth. Set up by someone I know. Anurita Ghoshal. An unlikely candidate. An established (and might I say highly successful) HR consultant. Who just thought she wanted to learn baking one fine morning (or so I think – it could have been evening!) And off she upped and went. To a celebrated school of baking in Paris.

She stayed the course – (to a part, she confesses, thanks to a French chef – known for his looks as much as his skills, a la Two Broke Girls?!!!) and came back to partly live out her passion. I say partly because she still continues to don her consulting hat with the chef's.

I admired the spirit. The passion. The will. The determination to go follow one's dreams. To make them come true in whatever fashion possible without running away from a day job, or from the reality and the responsibility of life. 

And so let's come back to this baking class at Eighth … as excited as my more accomplished co-learners.

The venue of the class – the Eighth baking studio – invites you in with the warmth and the smells of a bakery. If the aroma has not tickled your tastebuds already, the d├ęcor entices you in. Clever statements on the board make the tasting and sampling of freshly baked goods completely above guilt! And of course there are those tempting jars of biscotti placed high above on the shelf which brings out your inner child unable to reach the cookie jar! 

Eighth - the name - has a reason. After the Seven Deadly Sins - Eighth, Anu proclaims is the sin of indulgence. And what better to do than to feed your soul with some wholesome nuts, fruit and a bit of sugar-laden energy! 

It sure turned out to be couple of hours of sheer delight (and of great calorific value!) We baked 5 items – in about 3 hours - Strawberry and Roasted Almond Cake, Rosemary Orange Rind Madeleines, Chewy Chunky Blondies, Date Nut Loaf and Chocolate Sables. 

What we learnt was more than 5 times over. Techniques, textures, tastes. Shortcuts, alternatives, choices of ingredients. And where to get the stuff! And Anu’s demos brought with them a constant commentary of learning and her unbridled passion for baking and for the stuff she bakes. A surefire baker's dozen!

Also, in terms of timing and order of the items and the neatly measured out ingredients for each of the recipes, it was obvious that a lot of prep had gone in to what seemed to be a simple class.

Anu is most forthcoming with the questions asked (I didn’t ask the questions but learnt a lot from the answers) forthcoming with
information on getting the ingredients and forthcoming with all the little tips and techniques that make that big difference between attending a class and looking into a recipe book.

And finally when all was done and we were a highly accomplished bunch (I thought so!) we walked out with 5 recipes, loads of calories and a smug and satisfied feeling that you get when you spend a Saturday morning officially ingesting Date Nut Loaf and a Strawberry and Roasted Almond Cake. We were learning after all!

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