There’s an awful lot of hype surrounding bread at the moment, what with the ‘Fabulous Baker Brothers’, Henry and Tom Herbert’s recent TV show (and the shock news that one of their loaves sells for over twelve quid – I kid you not – over £20 if you want it couriered), and lots of people reverting to the more traditional kitchen skills of baking their own bread, making butter, etc.
I do make my own bread, but it tends to be a batch of sticky iced buns if I’m feeling like a baking session, or an easy Irish soda bread on a Sunday morning, so when I was asked to review Bread Revolution I was really interested.
Duncan and Patrick own The Thoughtful Bread Company in Bath and really want to encourage us all to bake (or at least buy) proper bread. There are all sorts of wonderful recipes (don’t miss the Cider and Apple Bread), and great step-by-step guides to mixing, kneading, shaping, etc, plus loads of interesting stuff about ingredients. The one that fascinated me, though, was the sourdough. Basically, you make a sourdough ‘starter’, which ferments and becomes your very own living, breathing yeasty friend who lives in the fridge.
Ours was called Fluffy (someone on Twitter told me to give it a name – apparently this helps you ‘bond’). It’s relatively easy to make (a mix of live yogurt, skimmed milk and bread flour), but you do have to remember to feed it, otherwise it dies. We had a little wobble when I opened up mine to find mould all up the side of the tub, but I managed to rescue it, and with a new, sterilised pot, Fluffy thrived. The boys (find them on Twitter @thoughtfulbread) were really helpful, and shared my immense pleasure and pride when my very first sourdough loaf came out of the oven.
Seriously, I don’t think there are many things quite as satisfying as baking your own bread, and having Fluffy in the fridge ready to go whenever I want to bake makes me more determined than ever to keep going. That, and the chewy-crusted, soft-doughed gorgeousness that is a fresh-from-the-oven sourdough loaf.
What a wonderful book.
Bread Revolution is out 1st March priced £10.59 on Amazon. Here’s a vid of the boys in action: