Bread-making is magical. There’s something about the entire process which forces me to slow down, plan ahead, do things step-by-step without rushing ahead and see something transform right in front of my eyes.
I love the almost yen-like practice of kneading bread and feeling it change in minutes from a gluey blob stuck to my rings to a silky smooth stretchy ball.
I haven’t always been a bread-maker. For years, we made use of our bread machine – a wedding gift which is still working fine 15 years later. It did the trick but the crust was on the thick side and it only made one shape.
A few years ago, I began to read up on bread-making by hand, and wanted to learn this new skill. After much research, I selected the award-winning book The Bread-Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. I haven’t been disappointed. Every single recipe has worked, and it’s been a wonderful journey learning how to make all sorts of different types of bread.
The book is more than a collection of recipes or story-telling. Reinhart is a master of explaining the art and science of bread-making. He details exactly what the bread should look like, feel like or what the internal temperature should be at every step of the way. There’s never been a moment where I’ve had a question that hasn’t been answered in the book.
The title is apt: I do feel like an apprentice working through the book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and have given it as a gift and plan to give it to others. The book simply works, no matter your abilities.
When we travel abroad, we’ve taken photos of our favorite recipes from the book as we love them so much – the book itself a little too heavy to bring along!
Of all the recipes, my favorite is his Italian bread loaves. These are incredible to serve up at any meal. They taste great even with plain butter. When we’ve entertained, I’ve even made up to thirty loaves at one time. All his recipe formulae are easily adaptable.