* Prices may differ from that shown
I used to like to bake. I'd make cakes and biscuits like they were going out of fashion (mainly chocolate ones it has to be said), but bread was never my thing. For starters my bread always turned out vaguely brick-like, which wasn't particularly appetising! One day I decided to give up and I purchased a breadmaker, which at least made edible bread, but it still wasn't that amazing artisan bakery style bread which I aspired to make.
Being a little bit behind the rest of the world, I discovered The Great British Bake-Off on TV last year and fell a teeny tiny bit in love with Mr Paul Hollywood. Discovering that he actually seemed to really know his stuff I searched on Amazon and purchased one of his books "How To Bake" in the hope that he'd have a few tricks to help me with my bread baking education.
When the book came I devoured the clearly written recipes and the tantalisingly tasty looking photos of the end product and noticed a number of differences in both the recipe (no sugar for starters which was something I'd never come across before) and the technique used. So out came my apron and my bread flour and I set to work making one of the simplest loaves in his book - a white cob. It only used 5 basic ingredients, but my goodness that loaf tasted good and was gone almost immediately (not eaten entirely by myself I might add!). And that was the beginning of the bread-like magic that started to happen in my kitchen! Paul Hollywood really does explain not only the method, but also the science behind it all very well, so that you actually start to feel like you know what you are doing!
The book itself is clearly laid out with the following sections:
* Getting Started with Bread
* Basic Breads
* Flavoured Breads
* Croissants, Danish and Brioche
* Biscuits, Puddings and Cakes
* Tarts and Pies
As you can see the recipes included are so much more than normal bread (not that there is anything wrong with normal bread - in fact it tastes so much better than shop bought, you won't want to buy it ever again!). I have successfully made scones, wholemeal cheese scones, wraps, garlic bread, shortbread biscuits, pain au chocolat, lemon drizzle cake and my favourite - bacon and cheddar loaves. I have not had a recipe fail yet, due to the clear instructions and advice in the book and that surely has to be a result!
The book is pitched just right in that it would be perfect for absolute beginners to the world of baking or those who are experienced and fancy a bit more of a challenge. Most of the breads have basic, easy to get hold of ingredients and so are not too expensive to make especially if you have a store cupboard already. One negative is that a few of the recipes have ingredients that are quite hard to get hold of - epoisse cheese for one! Another negative for me is that some of the wetter doughs really need to be made using a stand mixer with a dough hook. Sadly I do not have one of these currently so I am unable to bake some of my favourites, however this does at least give me an excuse to buy a lovely KitchenAid or similar further down the line. "Yes, Mr Littleme96 I *really* do need one, Mr Hollywood said so..."
Having said that they are the only two negatives and this really has opened up a whole new world of amazing bakery products being produced from my kitchen. It really is a miracle!
At the time of writing (11/05/13) this hardback book is for sale on Amazon priced at £9.00.