The River Cottage Bread Handbook

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-06-15
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
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The River Cottage farm, established by British food personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to promote high-quality, local, and sustainable food, has inspired a television series, restaurants and classes, and a hit series of books. In this new addition to the award-winning collection, River Cottage baking instructor Daniel Stevens shares his irrepressible enthusiasm and knowledge to help you bake better bread. From familiar classics such asciabattaandpizza dough, to new challenges likepotato bread,rye loaves,tortillas,naan,croissants,doughnuts, andbagels, each easy-to-follow recipe is accompanied by full-color, step-by-step photos. Therers"s even an in-depth chapter on building your own backyard wood-fired oven.

Author Biography

As well as baking fresh bread every day in the River Cottage headquarter kitchens, DANIEL STEVENS leads the ever-popular Build and Bake courses, which equip students with the skills to build their own outdoor wood-fired oven. Daniel has been cooking and baking in professional kitchens for several years, both in Hertfordshire, where he grew up, and more recently in Dorset, where he now lives. He has been part of the River Cottage headquarters kitchen team since 2006.
HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL is a renowned British broadcaster, writer, farmer, educator, and campaigner for real food. The author of seven books, including the James Beard Award-winning River Cottage Meat Book, Hugh lives with his family on the River Cottage farm.


Why Bake Bread?
There is nothing in the world as satisfying to eat as home-baked, handmade bread. Of course, technically, the artisan baker down the road is much better at it, but no amount of skill and craftsmanship can replace the utter joy of eating and sharing the stuff you make yourself. And it is practical to make bread -- exceptional bread -- with your own hands, in your own home, on a regular basis.
I know you are busy, so I have given you roti -- a flat bread you can make, from cupboard to table, in less than five minutes. But I know that you also have free time, and I hope I can persuade you that free time spent in the kitchen -- by yourself, with friends, or with children, with music in your ears, wine in your glass, flour in your hair, and magic in your hands -- is time that could not be better spent.
If you are new to bread making, this sense of pleasure might not be immediate, but I am confident that you will reach it more quickly than I did. I remember my first loaf well -- even the birds wouldn’t eat it. I had followed the two-page recipe to the letter and the cookbook assured me that “homemade bread is easy.” That was rather hard to swallow (as was my bread). Still, I soldiered on, day after day. After all, practice makes perfect.
There are two kinds of bread in the world: bread that hands have made, and bread that hands have not. In an ideal world, all bread would be hands-have-made -- by your hands and my hands, and by the hands of those few professional bakers left who are still doing it properly. I guess there will always be hands-have-not bread, and while it’s not that bad, or at least it is surely edible, it seems a shame that bread has become so standard and commonplace that we don’t even consider what a small miracle a risen loaf is.
Mass-produced bread
Some would say that 1961 was a bad year for bread. It was the year the Chorleywood Bread Process came into being. Developed by the Flour Milling and Baking Research Association in Chorleywood, England, the process revolutionized the baking industry. This high-speed mechanical mixing process allowed the fermentation time to be drastically reduced and meant that lower-protein British wheats could be used in place of the more expensive North American imports. Various chemical improvers and antifungal agents are necessary ingredients, as are certain hydrogenated or fractionated hard fats. This is high-output, low-labor production, designed to maximize efficiency and profit at the expense of the consumer.
Mass-produced bread is almost undoubtedly worse for you. Apart from the dubious additives and fats it contains, the short fermentation makes the wheat harder to digest. Indeed, some believe the Chorleywood processing method is partly to blame for a sharp increase in gluten intolerance and allergy. It is also probable that the prolific crossbreeding and modification of modern-day wheat, to produce stronger, tougher, harder-to-digest gluten, has contributed to wheat intolerance.
Somewhere in the region of 98 percent of bread baked in England is mass-produced, and most of it comes from around a dozen huge plant bakeries. Supermarkets love to crow about their in-store bakeries, but they are really nothing more than mini versions of these plants. And 98 percent is a lot. That means hands-have-not bread is not just the preserve of the supermarkets; it is the same bread you buy in most local “bakeries.” I’m talking about the ones that sell white pan loaves with flat tops and apple turnovers, where there is little hint of baking activity save for the oven warming of sausage rolls, ham-and-cheese croissants, and “Cornish” pasties. The bakeries whose bread looks the same as everyone else’s . . . Well, nearly everyone else’s.
Bread from real bakeries
Real bakeries are s

Excerpted from The River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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