When South Africa went into a serious lockdown, architect Yusuf Patel took over his wife’s kitchen to try his hand at bread-making – and he hasn’t looked back, writes Sana Ebrahim
What do you get when an architect in lockdown just happens to get gifted a bread making course? – A recipe for bread making of course.
Well-known Durban architect Yusuf Patel has just published a book on bread-making called: ‘Making Dough during Lockdown: An easy guide to bake bread at home like a pro.’ The book is a thoroughly accessible read, tempered with innuendo, puns and oodles of cheerleading that extend beyond the pleasures of bread making.
With the focus returning to the home during lockdown, people are exploring their creativity in the kitchen, garden, and a range of arty pursuits from calligraphy and poetry to sewing and knitting. DIY and home improvements characterise the contemporary milieu. The result: Maker Movement material at full tilt.
Patel was introduced to bread making by his friends, the Moosa family as a birthday gift some years ago. He has since been struggling to make an easy loaf without messing his wife’s kitchen. He thinks he has finally got it right given the year-long lockdown and so decided to share his tips.
Bread is essentially one of the oldest forms of foods and most cultures have some sort of bread in their diet. He says one will be aghast to know how many chemicals go into store-bought bread. Baking at home requires only four ingredients – flour, water, yeast and salt (no kneading necessary) complemented by loads of patience.
“Dieticians may try to convince you otherwise but no meal is complete without bread. Our ancestors didn’t have any of the gizmos we have today. Just go back to how your granny made it and the smell alone of fresh bread will bring back nostalgic memories,” writes Patel.
With breads of the mealie, banana, sourdough and the humble toast variety in vogue, you’d suffer a serious bout of FOMO (fear of missing out) if you didn’t up-skill or keep up with the latest doughy trends. “Once you’ve mastered the basics of bread making, I suggest progressing on to sourdough where you will discover enhanced flavours in the bread. It’s also a lot easier on the gut because of its use of natural yeast,” adds Patel.
Recommended in the book are Adam Robinson and Roger Jardine’s ‘A Book About Bread’ available from Glenwood Bakery, Ike’s Books & Collectables or Bake a Ton online. “Adam also makes the best artisanal bread in town and a visit to his bakery will change your mind about what good bread should taste like,” says Patel.
An architect, Patel worked on the conversion of Durban’s listed Aliwal Congregational Church into Masjid Maryam. Patel said that Moroccan artists were brought in to add an authentic touch to a heritage building.
Patel also runs an on-demand print company called “dignity” which acts as a catalyst for getting self-publishers into print. “There’s so much talent out there and with the advent of the digital press anyone who aspires to be an author and has written anything or wants a photo album can get into print from as little as one copy. The days of investing in large print volumes and waiting for weeks are gone. The new service level is ‘on-demand’,” he says. Efficiency, convenience and flexibility are just some of the attractive attributes of print-on-demand publishing.
Patel suggests that everyone should do something not related to what they do normally. So why not give bread making a try or pursue any of your other latent talents. ‘Making Dough during Lockdown’ is an ideal Eid gift. Get your copy from Baitul Hikmah bookshop, 222 Kenilworth Road, Overport, Durban or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp +27 82 786 3707. The book costs R75 incl.