The best of bread week: Nasreen spills the beans

2016-10-26 12:59

Cape Town - Things are heating up in The Great SA Bake Off tent. 

In episode two the remaining amateur bakers had to pull out all their skills to bake the perfect breads. 

After three rounds of intense challenges, 28-year-old industrial psychologist, Nasreen Chamda was crowned bread queen.

Her phoenix rising from the fire was the showstopper of the night. 

We had a quick chat with Nasreen about the challenge, the inspiration for her showstopper and her top bread baking tip. 

How much bread baking experience did you have going into this week’s challenges?

Bread, oh, bread! I’ve always been fascinated with bread but was too afraid of the process. The bake off challenged me to push myself and delve into unknown territory and I was surprised to find that I fell head over heels in love with baking bread. Going into bread week, I felt that I was theoretically prepared but as far as practical experience goes my repertoire consisted of plaited loaves, dinner rolls and the occasional naan. I was confident with my flavours but was nervous about the actual bake. 

What was the inspiration behind your showstopper?

Being an inexperienced bread baker, I wanted to showcase my personal and baking growth in an unusual, creative and unique way. I wanted my bread piece to showcase that bread can be used to create works of art and is not limited to dinner rolls or flat bread. In addition, I wanted the piece to reflect the love I have for baking as well as how I as a baker have ‘risen’-just as the phoenix rises from the ashes and is reborn. I selected flavour profiles that would complement the design element of my piece, for example, chillies are associated with heat/fire, just as the phoenix is depicted rising from fire;  or the basil and chilli pesto pinwheels and cumin potato buns that represent coals. I also wanted to stay true to my roots and incorporate my culture into my bakes. 

What was the toughest part of the challenge?

The biggest concern for me was whether the bread was baked through. The phoenix dough was 100% edible so I was concerned about stability and if it would hold up without breaking. Salt dough or dead dough is usually used by bakers when creating elaborate decorative bread show pieces. This type of dough is strong and stable when baked. I chose not to use the salt dough as Shirley always advises to present elements that are edible. I took a big risk with the Phoenix but I am so happy that it all worked out in the end. 

What’s your favourite type of bread to bake?

My favourite bread to bake is a 3 strand plaited loaf, filled with homemade olive tapenade, coriander and chilli pesto-dotted with cherry tomatoes.

How are you preparing for the upcoming challenges?

I plan to step out of the box with the upcoming challenges, trying different flavour profiles and designs that may challenge the norm. This is a risky move but I want to make the most of this experience and really challenge myself. My strategy going forward is to put my heart and soul into every bake, focus and have as much fun as possible. 

What’s your top bread baking tip?

My best bread baking tip would be to start off the bake at a high temperature of 200C and to then reduce the temperature to 180C. This will ensure a crispy crust and a soft centre, and don’t be afraid to tell a knock-knock joke when testing if your bake has cooked through.

For all the baking drama tune in Tuesdays at 20:00 on BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174).

(Photos: BBC)

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