They say you can judge a really good restaurant by how well it does a really simple dish. A simple dish gives the cook no room to hide. If the restaurant can do a really good roast chicken or pizza margherita than you know you are probably in good hands. Maybe we can say the same thing about cookbooks? If they can teach an amateur to make something simple or make it look simple than you have found yourself a good cookbook.
I feel that way about Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast. This is the cookbook I find myself reaching for most when I want a foolproof loaf ready for tonight’s or the next night’s (when I have my act together) dinner. These are not fancy or high concept breads, just simple, tasty, every day basics. If you can understand the concepts and follow the instructions for these loaves, you will not only make great bread but also have no problem with those fancy breads in other cookbooks.
One of my jobs for the Friendsgiving Potluck was to bring the bread. I originally planned to make Parker House rolls, biscuits and an herbed focaccia, but at the last minute switched out the focaccia for some cornbread.
So of course, the cornbread ended up being the hot commodity. People going so far as to take half eaten nubs off discarded kid’s plates to get a taste.
Sometimes you just need bread fast.
I like to plan. I operate best when I know what is coming. Changes or unanticipated surprises make me grumpy. Like when meal planning goes awry and we end up having soup or stew and I don’t the time or dough ready for bread.
Soup or stew without bread is only half a meal. It all makes me grumpy!
How often do you get a 50% discount on visiting one of the most expensive cities in the world? Not often and when you do, you don’t say no.
Michelle was asked recently to speak at a conference in Manhattan. With her expenses covered, I decided to tag along for a little adventure. While she networked, dropped knowledge and impressed executives, I wandered the streets and ate my face off for 36 hours.
I’m not claiming these are the best bread books, these are just the four that have worked best for me so far. They are the ones I reach for the most and the ones that I think about first when I want some bread. The best cookbook in the world is no use if it remains on the shelf.
If you are interested in baking fresh bread any one of these books will get you off on the right foot.
This week, as Saturday crept closer and Allison’s excitement grew, I became seriously worried that she had somehow conflated peewee soccer with eating an unlimited supply of chocolate bars. She was very excited, anxiously asking when her ‘chin’ guards and new soccer ball would arrive. This was a new experience for me.
I’ve become accustomed to shrieks of delight over dance recitals, princesses, tulle and glitter tattoos. I’ve never had a child this excited about a sport. She almost passed out when the box finally arrived on Friday. I’m pretty sure she would have slept with her shin guards on if we had let her. Maybe all my Premier League watching has somehow seeped into her brain?
Did I mention I would be coaching these all these (equally excited) 4 year old’s at 9 a.m. Saturday morning?
First, of all any recipe that not only includes beer, but includes it prominently in the title definitely has my attention.
Second, this incredibly simple bread is easy to make and tastes like Thanksgiving.
Third, do you really need another reason to make this quick bread?