Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust
This week in school is all about artisanal loaves and cafe-style breads. Everyday I bake and take home anything from eight to sixteen huge loaves of bread as well as scores of buns. I have got quite a few strange looks from fellow commuters who peer curiously at the long baguettes and rustic loaves sticking out of my two carryalls.
One day on the way home I was so laden with bread that I hailed a taxi at the MRT station. Just before alighting, I thrusted a big loaf at the taxi driver before making my escape. At NTUC picking up groceries, I looked for my favourite cashier lady and snuck her another big loaf under the NETS counter. Walking to the lift lobby, I spied 3 makcik neighbours having a good ol’ chinwag at the void deck and hijacked them with heaps of bread.
I’m most happy to give away my bread as there is only so much my husband and I can eat. Besides, bread appeals to the romantic in me in a way cakes and pastries cannot. Oft, bakers say bread is ‘alive’. When making bread, it’s not just a static piece of dough. As it’s kneaded, at times I can feel the bread resist my motions. Sometimes it puffs up in my hands, at other times it squeaks in protest when I try to punch the air out of it. The most amazing moment happens for me when the bread ‘sings’. As the loaf exits the hot oven, the crust gives out this amazing faint crackling sound. If you bake one loaf it is barely audible but when my mates and I line up our twenty-odd loaves of ‘singing’ bread, the sound is remarkably clear. The first few times this happened in class, my mates and I would bend our heads down to listen to the trays, enraptured by the cacophony of loaves.
Hence, there is something quite poetic about giving someone bread that has been lovingly crafted, not mass-produced; it’s almost as if you are giving them a piece of life.