White bread. All breads made by Chef Jacqueline Lobin.

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Mmm. . .

that smell of fresh, home-baked bread

By Kimoy Leon Sing

What is Christmas without fresh home-baked bread?

For Chef Jacqueline Lobin and her family it is tradition. Christmas is upon us and one can expect the kitchen to be filled with various smells — hopefully good ones — since this joyous time tends to symbolise for many people love, joy, family and of course delicious food.

With many people expecting friends and relatives visiting for the holidays, the dining table is usually the central meeting place for most guests.

Having lots of food around Christmas time is not uncommon in many households. Some people tend to keep family recipes year after year, if the responses by guests are empty plates and broad smiles.

For Lobin, as a chef and a mother of two small children, she understands the importance of food — both in presentation and taste. Throwing her heart and soul into her cooking, Lobin did some simple holiday favourites. Whether you fancy white bread, whole wheat, or if you prefer something a little sweet, Lobin also did her ready-to-eat, quick and sweet banana bread.

Sharing the history of bread, considered a main staple in many households, Lobin said, "It has always been a common symbol of bounty during any time of feast or thanksgiving. Bread can be dated as far back as thousands of years before Christ in the form of unleavened bread or flat-bread. This type of bread is similar to tortilla and comprises ground grains (flour) and water. The Egyptians began introducing yeast to bread to make it rise during baking.

"There are various types of bread but the most common to us are white, whole wheat, roti (a general Indian term for bread), quick breads such as banana breads and sweetbreads. The list of breads is quite long since people nowadays are becoming more and more innovative. Adding a vast array of ingredients to bread recipes has produced breads with different tastes and textures," she added.

Despite these variations, bread though a relatively simple recipe Lobin says can still baffle the minds of today's average cook. Whether the bread comes out too hard or too soft, Lobin encourages people to practise, practise, and practise.

WHITE BREAD Ingredients 1 ½ lbs all purpose flour (sifted) 1 ½ Tbsp brown sugar 1 ½ tsp salt 2 Tbsp butter 2 tsp yeast 1 ¼ cups water Method 1. Combine the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. 2. Add the sugar and yeast and mix. 3. Crumble the butter into the mixture and rub in until it is distributed through the flour. 4. Add water and mix flour into a dough, then knead for 10 minutes to develop the gluten strains in the flour. 5. Let stand for 10 minutes then to knead one last time before panning it. You then let it proof for 45-60 minutes depending on the temperature of your work area. 6. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Please note the use of salt in bread making is to develop the gluten in the flour but will retard the yeast from fermenting or growing. While on the other hand the use of sugar helps the yeast to multiply quickly. WHOLE WHEAT BREAD Vary the White Bread recipe by adding 1 cup whole wheat to the mixture to get whole wheat bread. This makes 1 loaf of bread. BANANA BREAD Ingredients 2 oz butter 3 oz sugar 2 eggs 12 oz mashed bananas 3 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda ½ tsp grated nutmeg 8 oz sifted flour ¼ cup glazed fruits This bread is one of the quickest to make and tastes great. You can change it up by adding cinnamon or spice instead of the nutmeg and some nuts for all the banana nut bread lovers. It should not be mixed too much for this causes the gluten in the flour to develop causing the bread to become a firmer one rather than a soft and moist one. The best bananas to use are the over ripened ones because it makes the bread moist. The not-so-ripened ones do not have a high level of moisture in them. Method 1. Cream butter and sugar together for 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time and stir. 2. Add baking powder, baking soda nutmeg then stir in, followed by the mashed bananas and glazed fruits. 3. Add flour to mixture and mix until combined (for 2 minutes). 4. Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake in an oven pre-heated to 300 degrees F for 20- 25 minutes

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