Hope you’ve all had a wonderful Easter! We’ve had a lovely break, and I’ve spent most of it baking, so there is a string of bread posts to follow!
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I’ve realised that the main reason I buy cookbooks these days is not for the recipes.
After all, I have a stack of cookbooks with more recipes in them than I could ever make. Instead, I now buy them – usually in ebook format – because I like the author, and want to support what they’re doing. It’s the fifty year old’s equivalent of buying a band t-shirt and an album at a live gig.
That was the case with this book by Josey Baker, whose surname actually is Baker, and who started his mad bread baking journey only a few years ago. If I lived in San Francisco, I’d drive over and buy a loaf from his bakery, but as I don’t, picking up his ebook from Amazon for $10 feels like the next best thing.
I first came across his video on Jarkko’s Bread Magazine website. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy…
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Josey’s book is chatty and full of photos. It’s written as a series of lessons – starting from a basic yeasted loaf, all the way up to elegant sourdoughs that take days to make. For me, there are recipes to attempt as they’re written (like the gluten-free Adventure bread, although finding gf oats here can be tricky), and yet others to take inspiration from and adapt to my own lazy way of baking.
As an e-book, it reads well on the iPad, and all the recipes and chapters are hyperlinked, making navigation pretty easy. The font size varies a bit, but that’s a minor issue, and there are plenty of step by step photos on shaping and dough handling.
I liked Josey’s idea of baking balls of filled dough in muffin tins to make what he calls “pocketbreads”. I adapted his B(L)T recipe and stuffed my latest batch of sourdough with sundried tomatoes and crispy bacon, but you could use whatever bread dough you have on hand. Here’s my recipe…
- 300g active sourdough starter (fed at a ratio of one cup water to one cup flour)
- 600g water
- 500g bakers/bread flour
- 500g Semola Rimacinata di Grano Duro (fine durum wheat semolina flour)
- 18g fine sea salt
- 120g (combined) of crispy fried bacon and sundried tomatoes, chopped
- fine polenta/cornmeal for dusting
1. Mix all the ingredients together (except the cornmeal) in a large mixing bowl, squelching them together until well combined. Scrape off your fingers, cover the bowl and allow to rest for half an hour.
2. Uncover and knead briefly in the bowl for a minute, then cover again and allow to prove until doubled in size.
3. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly oiled bench and give it a few folds. Using scales, divide the dough into 18 x 110g pieces (some might be a bit larger). Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball, then roll each ball in cornmeal.
4. Line 18 holes of muffin pans with paper liners, and spray each liner with oil (I forgot to, and had to cut bits of paper off my finished pocketbreads). If your muffin tins are in better condition than mine, you could just spray them directly with oil. Place each cornmeal-coated ball into a hole, cover (I used the lids from my cake carriers), and allow to prove a second time.
5. Preheat oven to 240C with fan. Once the rolls have risen, slash a cross into the top of each one and spritz the tops with water. Place the muffin tins in the oven, reducing the temperature to 220C with fan at the same time. Bake for 15 minutes, then shuffle the trays around, reduce heat to 175C with fan, and bake for a further 15 minutes more, or until well browned. Allow to cool before scoffing.
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These are seriously cute – like little Alice in Wonderland loaves – and a bit too easy to eat. The muffin pans work well, providing an easier option than shaping individual rolls, and the cornmeal coating gives the crust an appealing crispiness (and allows for pleasing alliteration).
If you’re looking for more breadspiration, you might enjoy Jarkko Laine’s digital BREAD Magazine. It’s available by email subscription at a very reasonable price (I bought a 2014 subscription for $8, and all of last year’s copies for $10). You can also download all four editions from 2012 for free.
The magazine has superb photos, interviews with artisan bakers, tips on how to improve your loaves, breads from all over the world, and more. Every time I read it, I find myself rushing into the kitchen to bake!