bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Make Ahead Bread

I received a free digital copy of the new cookbook Make Ahead Bread: 100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day by Donna Currie through NetGalley.

I have been baking bread for as long as I can remember, but I never get tired of looking at and trying new recipes, which is why I was happy to take a look at this book.  Just flipping through it and looking at the gorgeous pictures makes me want to try every single one of the recipes.

The book begins with a chapter on the basics of bread-making, including ingredients and equipment.  Even though I've been baking bread for ages, I learned a thing or two.

I love the premise of the book - breaking up the process of baking bread  into multiple parts, meaning that the bulk of the actual work - the mixing, kneading and forming - can be done whenever the baker has time.  It means that, no matter how busy your schedule may be, you can still make and enjoy homemade bread.  Mixing, kneading, and the first rise are done on the first day - Prep Day.  Then the magical step in the process is refrigeration - the dough is kept in the refrigerator for anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, or longer - which improves both the flavor and the texture of the bread.  As well as allowing the baker to bake the bread on his or her own schedule.  Baking Day is usually pretty simple - remove the bread from the refrigerator and bake it.  And then enjoy, of course!

I bake sourdough most of the time anymore, which requires a longer rise time than breads made with active dry yeast, so I know that extra time does something special to the bread.  The author does include a few sourdough recipes and a very thorough explanation of starting your own sourdough starter.  There are also a few gluten free recipes included.

Once I started paging through the book, I could hardly make myself stop.  Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye:
  • Page 30 - Fresh Corn and Cheddar Loaf
  • Page 32 - Sauerkraut Rye
  • Page 38 - Stuffing Bread with Dried Cranberries - because cranberries are definitely my thing.
  • Page 80 - Cheesy Breadstick Twists
  • Page 94 - Sourdough English Muffins
  • Page 99 - Oatmeal and Orange Buns with Toasted Coconut
I'm sure I will be making some variation of several of these!

I also enjoyed all the pictures throughout this book.  While I can picture a lot of recipes just by reading through them, having gorgeous full-color pictures in a cookbook definitely take it to the next level.  I do wish there was a picture for every recipe and that the pictures were better labeled, (sometimes the picture is on the page before the recipe; sometimes on the page after) but it wasn't too hard to figure out which picture was for which recipe. 

It also would have been nice to see the book start with the most basic loaf - something for people who have never really baked bread to ease into it with - and for the recipes to be somehow labeled for difficulty, so those same people could easily pick some simpler recipes.  I don't think any of the recipes look terribly hard, and Currie does a good job of breaking them into manageable pieces and sharing handy information and tips for success, but I would hate for someone to be turned off of bread making because the recipe that was a bit harder than they were ready for.  For those of us who have been baking bread for a while or those who would bake bread if only they had the time, this book is an excellent resource.

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