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Daniel Trulson was in the USA about 12 years ago apprenticing with a French chef in Chicago when he received the hardest news of his life so far. He learned that he was suffering from a brain tumor. “At this extremely challenging moment in my life, baking bread became the meditative process that helped calm me down, made me focus and find clarity,” Daniel tells us over a call from Pondicherry, where he is now based. Daniel went on to not only beat the illness but also change his career path. Having discovered his passion for the art of baking, he decided to hone his skills working with some of the best bakers in the country, including Peter Reinhart. He then travelled to Europe with his wife to study and learn further.

Nine years ago the couple moved to Pondicherry, where his wife is from, bought a clay oven and started researching local wheat suppliers to find the best raw material. He began by working long hours, waking up before sunrise, hand mixing the dough himself, and selling the bread locally. As his business grew, he went on to launch his own café with Jane Mason (of Mason & Co Chocolates). Bread & Chocolate, the café, is now one of the most popular places in Auroville. It was at this café where a chance meeting with Rahul Reddy led to a new business partnership. The duo launched a specialty coffee roasting and craft bakehouse in Mumbai called Subko where everything is created using only locally sourced ingredients.

“It has been a creative process. We discuss and dream and come up with ideas and try those ideas together. Because I am a foreigner here, I didn’t just want to bring European style of baking to India,” he says. For Rahul, the question was how to work through Indian ingredients and climatic conditions, and create a global specialty standard in India. “It is about a merging of the flavours of India and techniques of the west which is what I always wanted,” adds Daniel. Which means besides the excellent sourdough and croissants, you can also find upma sourdough, palak paneer quiche, kulfi stuffed croissant at the café too.
 

Subko's Cold Brew Hazelnut Tart is inspired by the traditional method of tart making in Europe, by combining textures and flavours. Image courtesy, Subko Coffee Roasters and Bakehouse

However, these are strange times and the launch of the café didn’t go as expected. Seventy-two hours after the café opened in Mumbai the lockdown was called. “That it was tough for the business, is an understatement,” Rahul tells us. While the local bakeries and cafes were closed and people shut off inside their homes, many took to baking – from banana bread to sourdough, flour and sugar became an escape. And to Daniel it makes complete sense. “The raw materials are so basic but the results are so rewarding. For sourdough all you need is flour, water, salt, and you transform them through time and skill into something delicious. It’s like magic. At a time like this people are looking for the real joy that only baking or cooking and sharing a meal with family can provide,” says Daniel.

Subko finally opened its doors again recently for deliveries and has been getting rave reviews all around. Even as you can now order in your fix from your favourite bakers once again, if baking at home continues to provide joy and solace to you, we have picked out some baking essentials for you to invest in. According to the pro baker himself, baking is a self-motivating process at which you keep getting better. And he has only one piece of advice for those new to it – “You attempt one day, you fail and next day you try again and you get better, and this process of improvement is extremely enjoyable. But don’t get stuck in a recipe too much, use it as a guide but make it your own.”
 

Feature Image Courtesy

Dunelm

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