Posted by: billpurdue | July 14, 2012

Bread and steam

I’ve just been on a bread making course – not something I ever thought I would do, but I really enjoyed it and I feel now that I might be able to make a loaf or two of my own. You just need a bit of time and possibly patience. Anyway, there were several books which those attending the course could browse through, whilst sampling different breads, with butter and jam of course. One of these was English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David. This is the absolute classic book of bread making and it isn’t just a collection of recipes for different breads. It contains just about anything you want to know about bread, whether you are intending to bake a loaf or not. There is a lot on the history of bread making, making your own yeast, why sliced bread is so awful and some of the dubious practices of commercial bread makers (or should I say manufacturers) and much more.

According to her entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography “David was the best writer on food and drink this country has ever produced” – you can’t get any better than that.

If you just want to start baking your own bread, this book isn’t for you, but if you want to immerse yourself in the subject, buy it.

[Grub Street 2nd ed. Hdbk. 2010 £14.99 9781906502874]

Fans of the TV series “The Great British Bake- off” will know who Paul Hollywood is. I’ve just been looking through his latest book How to Bake. Whilst this does contain quite a few recipes for scones, cakes and pies, there are a lot of bread recipes and quite a bit of advice on bread making and the equipment needed at the beginning of the book. Yes, there are full page photos of loaves (and cakes) of all types, but the recipe instructions are quite detailed, so it’s not another “lavishly illustrated” cookery book. I wouldn’t have thought that you need much experience in bread making to tackle some of the delicious looking creations. He begins with a simple white loaf recipe and goes on to bread types like pitta bread, sourdough, spelt bread and many more.

[Bloomsbury £20 hdbk. 9781408819494 index, list of websites]

You could also try Paul Hollywood’s 100 Great Breads. I haven’t seen this book, but I understand it does contain other recipes apart from breads, so perhaps the title might be a little misleading?

[Cassell Illustrated £12.99 978-1844037001]

And now as they say, for something completely different. In Search of Steam by Keith Strickland is a new album of photos of steam locomotives and trains in various parts of the world. I haven’t seen the book, but I’ll be looking out for it. The transport writer Christian Wolmar has praised it in his newsletter (He’s written a foreword to it ) and says that these photos should be of interest to more than just steam enthusiasts as they show locomotives in a wider context.

[The History Press £19.99 hdbk. 978-0752465609]

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