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Durban baker produces a triumph out of lockdown

TGIFOOD

A BOOK ABOUT BREAD

Durban baker produces a triumph out of lockdown

(Photo: Roger Jardine)

When Erica Platter, burrowed somewhere in the bush in hiding from a pandemic, acquired a copy of Adam Robinson and Roger Jardine’s new book about bread, something in the veld stirred...

While everybody and their neighbour seemed to be baking during lockdown, and Facebook pics of crusty loaves outnumbered even portraits of cats, Adam Robinson of The Glenwood Bakery was not dilettanting about. He was producing an epic. A classic.

As befits a cook (he prefers that designation to “chef”, maybe even likes “baker” better now) who in his previous life was the toast of London, running a string of restaurants, gastro-pubs and catering companies.

(Photo: Roger Jardine)

The Magnum Opus has arrived in the bush, and we are knocked out. These books you quote, no no no, forget them. This is now the Last Word. Magisterial. Way above my pay grade, shamefully, but John, the breadie in the family, has grasped the nettle, and also has his urgent first orders: burger buns, without delay.

That was my immediate reaction to Durban-ex-London chef Adam Robinson’s lockdown labour of love and scholarship, A Book About Bread (with photographs and design by Roger Jardine).

Dr, Professor, Minister (the reverent, not the political sort);  you must now answer to all these titles, Adam.

This is a piece of work! Many many bravos.

(Photo: Roger Jardine)

Now I have had time to dig into the book. And am plunged even deeper into forelock-tugging, bowing and scraping, saluting mode.

I am a founder member of the 1 carton of amasi, 1 packet of self-raising flour baking school. When Graeme Taute was giving his bread-making classes in Hilton, it was John who went. I run screaming with terror away from stuff that requires precision with numbers, and science. Guess who did not take maths for Matric?

Adam Robinson with photographer Roger Jardine. (Photo: Supplied)

So perhaps I am unduly overawed by Adam’s technical virtuosity. By such acronyms as DDT (Desired Dough Temperature). And, if your DDT is not ideal, how much ice to put into the water… Adam disarmingly allows that “many bakers do distinguish themselves by their anal character”, before mentioning an equation involving weighing the ice and the water, multiplying, subtracting and then adding 80… eeek!

Later on, he cautions against tapping your loaf on the bottom to hear whether it is ready – “the deceiving sound of hollowness is sent by Satan to lure you into a trap”, he warns. Instead, take your loaf’s temp: the aim is 97℃…

But, that is baking. Especially bread. It comes with the territory. It has to be covered in a serious, professional book like this by a serious professional like Adam. Which he leavens (sorry) with dashes of deprecation and flashes of humour.

(Photo: Roger Jardine)

The formulas (bakers prefer that word to “recipes”) are extremely precise and meticulously photographed, in shades of crust and flour and wood, grey and tan, by Roger Jardine. Obviously an editorial decision, not to distract or detract with extraneous colour, and the purists will applaud, but may I be frank? In book 2, Adam and Roger, please go mad with what to put on what we bake.

Give us that roast chicken sandwich on onion and bay bread. In full colour, with all the trimmings.

More, please! DM/TGIFood

Go to www.glenwoodbakery.co.za to find out how to get this book, if you are not fortunate enough to live in Durban.

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