Monday, December 15, 2008

A Tale of Two Breads

I haven't bought a cookbook in a long time, but recently I treated myself to two new ones. The first is Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I have been eyeing this for a while and thought it would be a good purchase, what with the bakery business and all. This book is all about both the science and the art of great bread. Today I made this stollen, a German Christmas bread. I am going to do a little Christmas baking for the teachers at the boys' school so I wanted to take this for a trial run first. I'm usually not the biggest fan of the candied fruit in fruit bread/cake, but this is really good (probably because the fruit is soaked in rum first). If you have the book, I subbed a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed whisked in 3 tbsp of water) for the egg, and margarine for the butter.

The other purchase was Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, a book that, in essence, says that Reinhart is full of crap. All the kneading, gluten development, sponges, and starters are unnecessary. All you need to do is mix together a simple dough and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you want to make bread, you shape a chunk into a loaf and bake it. The results are actually pretty good. The flavour is not a good as more complex recipes (like Reinhart's) but for easy everyday baking the work to taste ratio is quite good.

So if you are in the mood for some baking, I recommend these books.