Up your high-tea game with these bun-tastic finds from Chennai's Instagram bakers
Over the past week, a novel research adventure led to breaking bread — that for the most part... you won’t find at a bakery near you. For instance, have you ever tried swirls of podi in a bun? From desi-inspired twists to novel finds like the Jewish babka and the Italian bombolini — here is a curated list of Instagram bakers serving up dough-re-mi heaven.
You knead to try these. Shika Parakh’s Beyond Loaf dishes out bread choices that rise to a slice of your imagination. The Podi Bomb laden with swirls of ghee and a medley of podis is best had warm. Subtle but distinct flavouring means this is one of those rare occasions where you might want to set your dip aside, because you don’t want it to distract from this glorious flavour find. “We first saw this recipe on a social media page of Vinesh Jony of Lavonne Academy but when we tried it ourselves, we tried different podi combinations because we knew we had to not make it too spicy and yet capture that ghee and podi flavour with some crunch. Eventually, we finalised on a mix of three podis from three different cities — Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad!” she says. Also, look out for their Mexican Bundt Fiesta (see top) and Cheddar Jalapeno minis that pair with a cheesy dip or a Tomasil dip. The latter, Shika shares “is a take on the American classic Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup!”
INR 325 for a box of six, plus INR 75 for the dip. INR 450 for a full loaf.
Bread braided with chocolate. How is that for a revelation on your palate? The babka that originated in Jewish communities has only recently been making its way into bakers’ ovens in Chennai. Sara Koshy (s_baketales), who has acquired quite the following for her decadent desserts over the years, tells us, “I attended a bread workshop in Singapore four years ago and babka was one of the things I learned to make. When I came back, it got pushed to the back-burner.” Fortunately, the lockdown inspired her to revisit her notes about a month ago, and it’s been a hit ever since. She elaborates, “My base is a rich brioche dough and the finished loaf is moist and not too sweet.” Possibly why we polished off a whole loaf in a single sitting! Flavors currently available are Nutella, Double chocolate and Cinnamon, with savory fillings in the works.
Given that it takes two days to create, you might want to plan ahead for your cravings. Sara takes us behind-the-scenes, “It’s a two-day process as the dough needs to be proofed overnight and even after
shaping, it has to rise well before being baked so no part of the process can be hurried.”
Order a loaf or a wreath. INR 475 for the Double chocolate loaf, INR 800 for the Nutella wreath.
Korean cream cheese buns
Sweet and savory, these buns catch us by surprise. Expect a generous portion of sweetened cream cheese on the inside, hints of garlic and a gorgeous crisp from a douse of herb butter before they are rebaked for a double dose of indulgence. Zohena Fathima (28) of zoyas_bakes tells us her fascination for baking began a decade ago while pursuing engineering, when she realized she preferred constructing desserts over buildings. What sets her Instagram bake shop apart from the crowd, however, is her love for Asian desserts. “I also make a Japanese cheesecake and Portuguese egg tarts.” The latter, she clarifies, is not in fact from Portugal but Macau. On our to-taste list for September!
INR 150 per bun.
It’s fitting that these Italian doughnuts are called bombolinis — because they are the bomb! With buns that come in different colours like red and green, Foodzlle by Ayesha Fazal rolls out flour clouds textured by granulated sugar on top and filled with pastry cream. Expect flavours like Strawberry cheesecake, Nutella, Vanilla custard, Salted caramel and Kumbakonam-degree filter coffee. Their maker who is a law student shares with a laugh, “I read more recipe books than legal ones!” Growing up on Nigella Lawson and MasterChef, food has always been a centering space to get through dark times, she tells us. These bombolinis that emerged from the lockdown are proof of the pudding.
INR 220 for four pieces and INR 420 for eight pieces.