Baking with the Breadmaster
It was a warm, summery day when I strolled through the Neopian bazaar and into the bakery in search of a sweet snack. Inside, I was greeted by a blue Kacheek wearing an apron that was absolutely coated in flour. The sweet scent of pastries and desserts filled the air. I felt my stomach growl.
“Yo!” said the Kacheek behind the counter. “Can I help you?”
I nodded, and started scanning over the huge variety of baked goods behind the glass cases the lined the walls of the bakery.
“I’ll take… I’ll take uhh…”
This decision was going to be harder than I thought.
“I recommend the cinnamon rolls. Lots of different kinds. We got ya Aisha cinnamon rolls, ya pumpkin cinnamon yurble ears, and the always popular angry cinnamon roll,” the Kacheek offered. “I’m the Breadmaster, by the way. Nice to meet ya.”
“Nice to meet you too,” I replied. I had heard great things about the prestigious Breadmaster and his incredible loaves and desserts. It seemed plain wrong to turn down a suggestion from the master himself. “How about just a regular cinnamon roll? Those look tasty.”
The Breadmaster reached into the glass case and pulled out a thick, bronzed roll dripping with icing. It was still warm when he handed it to me.
“So? Whatdya think?” asked the Breadmaster.
The smell alone had me salivating. As soon as I took a bite, I knew the answer to his question. The roll was soft and doughy inside, with a crispy exterior. There was just a hint of cinnamon and a touch of sugar. The icing on top was a perfect creamy compliment to the roll.
“That’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted!” I exclaimed. “How could you possibly make something so delicious?”
“Well… I’ll tell ya what, kid. Usually I don’t let anyone into my kitchen, but since it’s slow today and ya seem like a nice gal, I’ll let ya take a peek while I whip up another batch.”
What an honor! I was getting a look inside one of the most highly acclaimed kitchens in all of Neopia, the studio of the Breadmaster himself. Maybe I could even pick up a few tricks for my own baking, which usually consisted of under-risen breads and half-burnt cookies.
The Breadmaster unlatched the gate leading into the back kitchen. I followed him eagerly, soaking in as much as I could. It got hotter and hotter as we walked further back into the kitchen, and I soon saw the culprit.
“Wow! How many ovens have you got in here?” I was awestruck. From floor to ceiling lining an entire wall were ovens. Large ovens, tiny ovens, brick ovens, even an oven made entirely of ice.
The Breadmaster looked at me smugly and noticed I was eyeing the ice oven.
“Around twenty or so, ya know. It takes all kinds of equipment to make the very best baked goods in Neopia. You think I cook my famous Ice Loaf in a regular oven? Nah, need special tools for that. But enough about the ovens, you wanna help me get a batch of those cinnamon rolls going?”
I nodded, enthusiastic to get baking. The Breadmaster pulled out a large blue mixing bowl and a wooden spoon.
“Now kid, I’ll let ya watch my technique, but I can’t just go around giving up my secret recipes all willy-nilly. So I’ll need ya to keep the ingredients to yourself, and if anyone asks, ya never saw what went into my bowl.” The Breadmaster started to work, eyeballing measurements of sugar, water, and yeast and adding them to the bowl. He carefully folded in flour that he scooped from a blue bag.
“That’s the secret to almost everything in this place. Regular flour just doesn’t cut it, so I mix a little Kacheek Flour into just about everything that goes on my shelves to sell. In large quantities it can turn ya into a blue Kacheek so I just use a little bit.” He noticed me giving his blue fur a suspicious look. “Ehh,” he laughed nervously. “I wasn’t always a blue Kacheek. But it’s an occupational hazard, ya know? I gotta taste everything that I want to sell.” His answered satisfied me, and I nodded.
He continued to mix the dough, then turned it out onto the counter to knead. After a few minutes, he put it back in the mixing bowl to rise. Next, it was time to make the cinnamon filling. The Breadmaster carefully ground up a few cinnamon honey sticks and added them to a bowl with a bit of golden butter and a sprinkle of sugar.
“Well, the dough should be about done now, ya wanna help me shape it up?” The Breadmaster asked as he turned the dough back onto the counter and grabbed a rolling pin. He precisely cut the dough into twelve even strips, somehow getting them all the same shape and size without using any measuring tools.
“Now we gotta add the cinnamon filling.” He brushed a bit of the cinnamon-butter mixture over each of the strips of the dough and started to roll one up.
“Wait! I thought you said I could help you!” I exclaimed.
“Oh, sorry kid” the Breadmaster said. “Just a habit to start doing it myself. Go ahead and try to roll a few. Don’t worry if ya mess up, they don’t have to look perfect to taste good.”
I grabbed a piece of dough and started rolling it up, but it came undone as soon as I took my hands off of it. The Breadmaster grabbed my roll, tucked the loose end of dough under the roll, and placed it into a pan with the other rolls. He had somehow made four rolls in the time it had taken me to roll just one.
“Gotta tuck the ends under so they don’t fall apart,” he said. “Now let’s finish the rest and get them in the oven.”
He chose one of the smaller ovens, which was already preheated. The cinnamon rolls smelled delightful after just a few moments under the heat, and I could see the dough starting to crisp up and bake.
“Now, we got no time to waste. Gotta get that icing ready. If ya put it on the rolls when they’re still hot, it’ll soak down into the dough and make the whole thing sweet and delicious.”
I watched as the Breadmaster mixed together a bit of milk (delivered fresh from Kau Kau Farms every morning, I found out) and powdered sugar until the icing was creamy and smooth. Just as he was giving the icing a taste, the oven beeped. The Breadmaster opened the oven door, and peered in. He pulled out the tray of cinnamon rolls, looking satisfied.
“Would ya like to do the honor?” he asked, pointing to the bowl of icing.
“I’d love to!” I said as I picked up the icing and started carefully drizzling it over the top of the rolls. The icing ran down the sides of the warm rolls, coating them completely. When I was finished the Breadmaster set the pan on the counter to cool.
“Well, kid, those are just about done. Ya wanna give ‘em a taste?” He asked.
I nodded eagerly as the Breadmaster cut into the pan and lifted out a warm cinnamon roll. It was every bit as delicious as I had imagined, maybe even more so since I had a hand in baking it.
“Well, usually I would put these out for sale, but since ya were such a good assistant, I’ll let ya take the tray home with ya. Hope ya enjoy, kid,” the Breadmaster said as he packaged the cinnamon rolls up into a cardboard box.
“It was really great working with you,” I said. “Hopefully I can come back soon and help you again.”
“Well, kid, I can’t give away all my secrets…. But yeah, maybe you could stop by next week and help me whip up a batch of Fyora cookies,” the Breadmaster said with a grin.
I nodded, and made sure to collect my box of cinnamon rolls on the way out of the bakery.
Man, I thought to myself, my pets are never going to believe how I got these….