I sent out a newsletter last week asking what people struggled with when making bread. I am here to help you to understand bread making better so if people are struggling I want to be able to help with tips and answers. Jonathan got in touch with lots of great ideas for helping people understand bread making better. One of his requests was for recommendations on the best books to use when learning to make bread. This is something I have been meaning to write about for ages. So here we go with part one of a series of blog posts to help you decide which bread book you should buy or borrow from the library.
Starting with the best books for an absolute beginner and where best to start than with the book that started all of this for me. River Cottage Handbook No. 3, Bread, by Daniel Stevens.
In 2009 I found myself in the position of taking a career break to look after my girls who were then aged 3 & 5. I wanted to learn new skills and have something to focus on whilst they were at nursery and school and so I set up my food blog The Ordinary Cook. It was my corner of the internet where I could share my recipes and hopefully inspire people to start to cook or bake. A couple of times a week I would try out a new recipe and if it was a success it would be posted onto the blog.
I have just looked back and you can see my first recipe for bread was on 22nd September 2009 where I finally find that I have made an edible loaf of bread. I can still remember the joy of that particular loaf, as prior to this, I had always struggled to make a good loaf of bread. My previous attempts had been heavy bricks that Richard had been very kind about. The recipe for this particular loaf came from another favourite cook book of mine and one that comes from the same source, The River Cottage Family CookBook, another firm recommendation for anyone wanting to learn to cook. It is a brilliant starting point as it sets out all the tools and the ingredients you will need and a step by step process which is aimed at children but is equally suitable for adults, even those who are already proficient at cooking. After this success, I dived into the River Cottage Bread book and practised and practised. The book is so good because every recipe works, mostly because the instructions are easy to follow and there is an in-depth guide to the bread making process at the beginning of the book.
This is my number one book that I would recommend for anyone starting out on their bread journey.
My second recommendation is James Morton’s Brilliant Bread. Another book from which every recipe I have used has worked. He also gives you a clear explanation of the basics at the start of the book to help guide you through every subsequent recipe. I got the inspiration for the Marmite bread from this book and it is a bread that is loved in this household and, of course, either loved or hated by people who come along to the Bread Basics Full Day course. (I will also be recommending James Morton’s Sourdough book as my number one choice if you are diving into the world of sourdough when I do a full blog post on this subject soon).
My third recommendation for anyone beginning to make bread is Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s How To Make Bread. Again every recipe works and he gives full instructions, with photos, of the stretch and fold method that I use for all my doughs and that you can see me demonstrating in this video. This is the book which suddenly turned on the light for me and showed me how easy making bread can be.
So there you go, my top three recommendations for anyone starting out on their bread making journey, with the number one spot going to the River Cottage Handbook No. 3, because it has a special place in my heart as it was the book which ignited my obsession about bread. You can read about my favourite sourdough books and books for the more advanced baker too.