Love again: waking at ten past three
(Surely he’s taken her home by now?),
The bedroom hot as a bakery,
The drink gone dead without showing how
To meet tomorrow… (Philip Larkin Love Again September 1979)
It goes without saying that home made bread is one of the single best things a Garreteer can do for themselves. It’s usually cheaper to make your own: and the satisfaction and morale payoff is enormous. It almost always tastes better than even the most expensive, craftsman-baked bought loaf. But above all, baking your own bread on a regular basis introduces that unmistakeable, glorious baking perfume into your living space.
There are ways and ways of introducing yourself to home-baked bread. It’s worth starting simply, perhaps with a loaf mix from the supermarket that has the yeast already included. But you’ll soon be past that stage. Here are five books that, together, can take you as far with bread as your imagination can take you. Should you want it, there is skill and mystique in breadmaking, especially once you venture into growing wild yeasts and maintaining your own sourdough starters. (Please note that the asterisk indicates an affiliate link: the Laughing Garreteer benefits when you purchase via these links.)
Five Minute Bread: the Revolutionary new baking method *- Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
Minimal equipment and skill to get you going and fill your flat or bedsit with that fabulous baking smell
English Bread and Yeast Cookery *by Elizabeth David
Because everyone should aspire to own and have cooked from the entire Elizabeth David oeuvre, and because this will take you beyond bread into buns, croissants etc, and for the in-depth history and culture of bread in English history including a disturbing account of commercial breadmaking in seventies Britain
Building skill and technique:
Making Bread At Home *by Tom Jaine – not for the absolute beginner, and ownership of a decent oven definitely helps – but don’t forget that Raymond Blanc managed Michelin stars with an oven with the bottom missing. Renowned for bread recipes that beautifully capture the atmosphere, texture and flavour of an extraordinary range of international breads.
The Handmade Loaf *by Dan Lepard – the step by step photographs, taken by Lepard himself, turn this already classic book built around sourdough baking technique to an altogether different level. Lepard’s enthralling histories of bakers and baking traditions across Europe are worth the price of the book on their own.
Philosopy and urgency
Why Bread Matters *by Andrew Whitely – this was almost the first purchase recommendation. Full of tips to rescue failing bread, Whitely also reflects on recent breadmaking history, picking up where Elizabeth David left off, and makes it clear just how important home breadmakers are in keeping real breadmaking alive. Passionate and essential.