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My Halal Kitchen Q&A

In this month’s Q&A, Yvonne Maffei discusses the art of baking bread and the politics of culinary schools.

I want to start making bread but I have no idea where to start. I have a KitchenAid mixer but wonder if I need a bread machine to make bread. Do you have any suggestions?

Sounds like you have everything you need, aside from the ingredients. Here are some of the most important tips to making just about any type of bread.


First, be sure to use a good quality yeast to start the dough and ensure that the temperature indoors is neither too hot nor too cold when doing so. Be sure to allow the proper amount of time to proof the yeast as well. Use the dough hook on your mixer when you start to add the flour, as it is the best option that comes with most standard mixers and is specially designed to turn the dough very well. Never over-mix the dough or the gluten in the flour could become glue-like. Just follow recipe instructions for the estimated amount of time. Most dough will need time to rise, so follow recipe instructions for that as well.


Lastly, make sure your oven is working properly by using an oven thermometer to make sure the inside temperature is as you’ve selected on the outside dial. If not, you may need to have your oven calibrated, which re-aligns the temperature. Now go on and find a recipe you’d like to try, follow the instructions and these tips to get some bread-baking experience under your belt!


Here’s one recipe suggestion for foccacia bread to get you started: http://myhalalkitchen.com/help-haiti-and-a-simple-recipe-for-foccacia-bread/




I am pursuing a career in culinary arts but my cooking school requires me to deal with pork and its by-products. I am at a point where I need to get this degree but I really need to know if it is permissible to touch it without consuming it.
Congratulations on your pursuit of a career in the culinary arts! I know this can be such a struggle for so many who are passionate about food and cooking and wanting to devote their lives to a career in this area.


I have personally visited and spoken to the admissions departments and chefs at several top culinary schools about this topic and explained the reasons as to why I would like there to be a substitute for both pork and alcohol in the cooking classes. Some were very accommodating and others were not at all, so the good news is that there are some places you can go to get a culinary education without sacrificing your values.


I suggest you talk to the culinary school admissions advisor of any school you’re interested in attending and ask to speak to someone who can make decisions about these things. Explain your situation cordially and ask if they can make substitutes in ALL of your classes that require cooking pork, as it is not permissible to touch, cook, serve or consume it (according to my understanding). Insha Allah that will carry you through all of your class requirements. I hope that helps.