I love bread. It is the simplest food you can have, but oh how satisfying can it be. Every country has it’s own special breads and those are the ones I always want to eat during holidays. To taste and get inspired. As it happens I live in the Netherlands where the bread culture is not greatly developed to say the least. First couple of months here were tough, but what you cannot get you have to make yourself. What seemed like a big downside of being here in the end helped me to develop a great passion for baking bread. Since I discovered the great variety of flavours you can get with different flours and methods I want to bake bread almost constantly.
I still remember the indescribable joy I felt when I baked my first loaf of bread. Filling the house with the incredible aroma of a freshly baked bread simply makes me happy. I think that bread is often underestimated, not being appreciated enough for what it is. Most of the time it serves as a base for some toppings, which, don’t get me wrong, can be great, but can somewhat overpower the pure taste of a perfect loaf. And it is so easy to make bread.
There is plenty of great books about bread and I think I read them more often than novels lately. Instead of giving you a recipe for a bread, I want to share with you some of my favourite books.
- My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey
This is a great place to start. I mean there is no simpler way to make an incredible loaf at home. There is minimum effort to get some pretty good bread. All you need with this recipe is time. I know it requires some planning, but it is worth it.
And if you want to give it a try you can find the basic recipe at the website of his Sullivan Street Bakery. I visited his bakery during my trip to New York. The bread was fantastic. We bought 2 bags of bread (because it is hard to decide which one to take..) and it was all gone in 20 minutes. So good!
- Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish
This is my favourite book lately. It really gives you a good explanation on how to handle the dough to get the best bread possible. The recipes are really simple. Again, some time is required. This is a good book when you want you’re bread to be a little bit more complex in flavour. Also it’s perfect to get your techniques right.
- Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman
This is the first bread book I ever got. It helped me to develop a passion for bread. You will find here so many different types of bread that you will feel lost. I haven’t try all of them yet, but hopefully one day I will. I think this is a really good book after you baked quite some loaves.
Those are my 3 gurus of bread baking. They keep me motivated and inspired. And one thing for sure: once you bake your first loaf it’s going to be hard to go back to the store bought bread..