Want to start making homemade bread? The River Cottage Bread Handbook should be added to your bread making cookbooks and supplies! I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the art of bread making, whether you are a novice or a pro!
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The River Cottage Bread Handbook
Title: The River Cottage Bread Handbook
Author: Daniel Stevens
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Pages: 224 (Hardcover)
From the back cover:
The River Cottage farm, established by British food personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to promote high-quality, local, and sustainable food, has inspired a television series, restaurants and classes, and a hit series of books. In this new addition to the award-winning collection, River Cottage baking instructor Daniel Stevens shares his irrepressible enthusiasm and knowledge to help you bake better bread. From familiar classics such as ciabatta and pizza dough, to new challenges like potato bread, rye loaves, tortillas, naan, croissants, doughnuts, and bagels, each easy-to-follow recipe is accompanied by full-color, step-by-step photos. There’s even an in-depth chapter on building your own backyard wood-fired oven.
The River Cottage Bread Handbook Review:
If there is one thing I really struggle with in the kitchen it is making homemade bread. I have tried countless time and I end up swearing at dough that is too sticky, or dough that isn’t rising, or bread that deflates in the oven. It is my hope that The River Cottage Bread Handbook will help me to learn what I am doing wrong! Bread making is such a simple concept…flour, water, yeast, salt. I should be able to do this!
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Getting Started Making Bread
The thing I absolutely loved about this book was the detail it went into about the process of making bread and how it work and why it often doesn’t. The first 1/3 of the book is all about getting started, types of ingredients, and the different methods of making bread. Each ingredient is discussed in detail from fresh yeast versus instant yeast, they types of flour and their gluten content, and whether you should use tap or bottled water. (either is fine). I think I have figured out my problem in the bread making department. I have been using regular unbleached flour and not bread flour. Regular flour just doesn’t have a high enough gluten content to create the elasticity of the dough and the proper rise.
More Bread Cookbooks
- Bread Making: A Home Course
- The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Cookbook
- King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook
Basic Bread Recipes
The author includes the ‘basic recipe’ formula that includes a ratio of flour to water to yeast to salt. Then, he offers variations on this formula to try out once you have mastered basic bread. The remaining 2/3 of the book are recipes. They range from pizza dough and tortillas to English muffins and donuts. There is a chapter on non yeast breads. This includes things like biscuits and scones. In addition, there is a chapter on ‘wild yeast’ sourdough breads. Due to the wide variety of recipes, your experience level shouldn’t matter too much.
How to Build a Clay Oven
The last chapter is all about building a clay oven! However, it seems to be quite a bit of work. The benefit of the clay oven seems to be temperature. Regular ovens stop at 500 degrees and apparently the hotter the oven for the first 10 minutes of cooking the better the bread. The clay oven reaches up to 750 degrees. Regardless, I’m not sure I can convince my husband to build one!
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the art of bread making, whether you are a novice or a pro! Want to check it out? Buy This Bread Making Handbook!
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.