With the heat in the kitchen rising ready for the 5th final of the Great British Bake Off, and the tension building for the second round of the Great Bake Off at work, I jumped at the chance of having a crack at baking bread, when Suppose.com dropped me a line asking if I would like to review a copy of Paul Hollywood's latest book "How to Bake".
Now bread has never really been my strong point; who remembers the not-so-brioche, brioche rolls? I certainly do, more heavier than a heavy thing and not fit for purpose what so ever. So over the years I've happily left the bread side of things to Ian. Not everyone believes me when I tell them that we haven't bought a loaf of bread in years, and that every Friday night, without fail, he's busying away in the kitchen kneading, proofing, shaping etc, but let me tell you he certainly does. He is the King of Bread in our house.
Well then, with Part 2 of the Bake Off coming up at work, and the gauntlet being thrown down with a bread challenge, I thought that the best way to review Mr Hollywood's lovely book was to put one of his recipes to the test. Paul's "Bread" book has been a kitchen favourite of Ian's from the moment go, but "How to Bake" is much more than bread; although a good deal of the book is bread/bread based, and to be honest there is a little overlap between the two books. In all honesty, if you don't have the original "Bread" and you want a good bread book, then head over to "How to Bake" for the best of the sweet and savoury worlds.
But, as always the book is beautiful. The instructions are clear and the photography is clean and simple, the way I like it. It's a really lovely book to just pick up and read through. I really like the introduction sections which guide a 'bread numpty' like me through the fine art of bread. Yes I'm the person who kills their yeast with the salt. I think there's still an air of mystery and myth around baking bread; most people are more than happy to get stuck into baking a cake even if they're not too confident, but with bread it's a whole other level, so these introductions really work for me.
So then, how did I get on with my re-attempt at bread? I let the Bread Master of this House make the recipe decision and it was a Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella bread that caught his eye. Paul's normally a firm advocate of using your hands, but this called for the dough to be made in a mixer, which was great for me. It's not a pretty sight when I knead bread, I'm think I must be the only person that ends up with more dough stuck to their hands than in the loaf. So popping the ingredients into the mixer and letting it do it's thing was perfect; and with just an hour's prove and a 15 minute rest this recipe was pretty good for a Bread Novice.
I jazzed up the recipe a little with some added garlic and rather than drizzling with just plain olive oil, I gave Ian's flavoured oils a shot, and 2 of the loaves were drizzled with chilli oil, and the other 2 garlic. In hindsight, I'd probably add a few more tomatoes and a little more cheese; but all in all, these were fantastic, especially straight out of the oven and even for breakfast cool; the dough was just so light and not stodgy at all. If all the recipes in the book work like this, I think you're sorted for bread for sometime.
So, what I'm really trying to say is that the Silver Fox has done it again, it's a lovely book, easy to follow, informative and the pretty to look at, and if you've not already picked up the 1st bread book, good value for money. Although, I can see that fans of the Great British Bake Off have probably already have Mr Hollywood's latest offering, gracing their recipe book shelves alongside Mrs Berry!
The only thing that remains for me now, is as I've proven to myself I can do bread without disastrous consequences, what am I going to bake for the Great Bake Off at work?!
"How to Bake" by Paul Hollywood is out now, published by Bloomsbury. With thanks to Suppose.com who kindly gifted me a copy of the book to review.