CHENNAI: To be a good cook, you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating,’ said Julia Carolyn Child, an American cook. Over a decade after her death, passionate home chefs like Rose Joseph, even in this corner of the world, swear by it.
After 30 years of baking, hosting guests, teaching aspirational cooks, and catering for small events, the lockdown came as a golden opportunity for Rose to pursue her long-standing dream of trying her hands at hand-rolled bread and speciality tea cakes. “The art of bread-making has always fascinated me; especially the way yeast — depending on whether it’s dry, instant, or fresh — reacts with flour.
A loaf of bread takes three to four hours to bake. I threw myself into baking loaf after loaf and honest feedback from my family encouraged me to keep improving each time,” narrates Rose, who also runs Rosedale Preschool in Anna Nagar that’s temporarily closed because of the pandemic. After testing different methods and flavours for her bread and cakes for months, the home chef launched her Instagram venture Madras Boulangerie on November 1.
Her curated menu of loaves offers variants such as olive bread, ciabatta bread, garlic bread, whole wheat bread, and caramelised onion bread; while the speciality cake menu has coconut cakes, and coffee and cinnamon cakes. “Our bread and tea cakes are inspired by family gatherings on a quiet Sunday evening. My mother is a wonderful cook and the tea cake was something she taught me to bake. To date, her friends vouch for the lasting impression her desserts left on their memories.
A friend also shared her feedback saying how my cakes tasted like her mother’s. These are words of assurance that I’ve mastered the art,” says a delighted Rose, who has also launched a limited edition menu for Christmas. Ask her for the secret behind baking a good slice of bread that’s soft and warm on the inside, she would emphasise being mindful of the ingredients that go into the making.
The right flour, locally-procured ingredients for the Indian palate, overseeing every step in the process, and, lastly, the right baking temperature. “A homemade loaf will never be perfect. It will not be smooth or evenlyedged. I stay away from flavouring agents, conditioners or improving agents. You can cut my loaf weighing 675 grams into 18-22 neat slices without crumbs or wastage. You need a good knife for it; so, most of the time, I end up doing it for patrons as they insist.
I want each slice to be a masterpiece. You can store it in the fridge for a week,” elaborates Rose, a resident of Anna Nagar. She also has an educational background in Nutrition and Dietetics. While tea cakes make for a humble accompaniment to your evening tea, the loaves make for a delicious sandwich or as an everyday dip bread for dunking into soups. Madras Boulangerie delivers across Chennai. All cakes and loaves are made to order and will take two to three days to be shipped.
Rose will soon be introducing bagels, pumpkin bread and assorted caramel cake. “After spending hours together in the kitchen, when you see the loaf of bread beautifully rise and come out with a tempting aroma, you feel that it was all worth the effort,” concludes Rose.
A loaf of bread is priced from Rs 250. For details, visit Instagram: Madras Boulangerie or call 8838080712
JUST BREAD THINGS
Mass-produced bread contains saturated fat, dough improvers, emulsifiers, yeast protein, and sweeteners. The sodium content is high. Preservatives and chemicals are added to increase shelf
life. At Madras Boulangerie, Rose uses Himalayan pink salt, whole wheat refined flour, yeast, and olive oil. Their dough is proofed at two intervals for 2-4 hours, depending on the quantity and the type of bread. They don’t use machines and prefer the old fashioned hand-rolled and oven-baked method.
Their loaf of bread comes with an instruction card on how to retain its freshness.