Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On Bread Baking Mojo

Walnut breads
How many bread bibles is it legal for one woman to own? Considering that I am an avid baker, who takespride in baking most of the bread we consume in this wee household, I take it there's still a limit. Two of the ones I have are even NAMED The Bread Bible, but are by different authors. One book I have two editions of, because, well... I didn't realize they were the same. Yet, even so, I managed to acquire one more of those babies - Meyers Bageri. It's Danish, it's gorgeous and I strongly recommend it.

Light rye bread

Every time I buy a bread book (or even a regular cookbook) I feel like it's more or less the same recipes that are in there. Obviously, it doesn't stop me from buying them. But there's your everyday wheat-type bread, a couple sourdoughs, some dark bread and then they end with a couple of yeasted cakes. Of course, they're not exactly the same in all the books, but they're cut from the same fabric. Often, I just end up using the same standard bread recipe I always use - one part coarse-type flour, one part tipo 00, 2 parts wheat. It's easy and reliable.

Emmerbrød - bread made from emmer, an old wheat-type

Does it feel too overwhelming, following a recipe I never tried before? Perhaps. I know that's how I sometimes feel with recipes for everyday meals, even though they may be no more time consuming than the things I make on a regular basis, and would bring something new! and exciting! to the table, which, I must admit, is desirable. Afterall, we can't live off mince, chicken and baked root vegetables all the time.

Brunsviger with marzipan, ohmygoshyoumusttrythis!

This book here, I felt was different. I'd been eyeing it in the shops for a while, and got it for a friends birthday present. I then proceeded to leaf through it the entire evening (what company I am!) Yes, there's still all of your standard fare, but there was something more. The photos are pretty, text good and thorough - but not overly lecturing - and something in it made me want to bake.

Pumpkin bread
 All of it.

Apple muffins with fresh cardamom - it really does make a difference

The breads are wow, even without the baking stone they keep telling me to use. Since I got it, I've baked several new breads, a yeasted cake, apple muffins - I even raised a sourdough! I guees that's all the proof you need - it made me want to bake again. It made me try a new way of kneading, and had me browsing the internet for bread baking techniques and (ooops!) had me searching for a new mixer (yes, I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, but it sadly isn't strong enough for the type of bread doughs I'd like to make) On my way, I found a new forum (The Fresh Loaf, anyone? It's a veritable treasure trove of all good things bread) and plain and simply, I think this book helped me get my bread baking mojo back. Now, all I need is a new baking stone... And big, big sacks of flour!

Wheat bread, cold-proved

Bread books I own (some more used than others...):
Camilla Plum - Et Ordentligt Brød
Nanna Simonsen - Brød & Kager
Aurions Bagebog - Fremtidens Brød af Fortidens Korn
Hanne Riisgaard - Hjemmebagt
Linda Collister - The Bread Book
Rose Levy Beranbaum - The Bread Bible
Beth Hensperger - The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes
Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid - Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World
Dan Lepard - Baking With Passion: Exceptional Recipes for Real Breads, Cakes, and Pastries
Nancy Silverton - Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur

What is your favorite bread book?