Firstly, yes making bread is a craft. AND an art. I have been indulging in this pleasure for some 40 years now, and have tried everything from friendship bread to quick rise goodies. But, I made a serious mistake when I picked up this book to read for the first time. I did it at 9 o’clock at night! ACK!
So, the first thing this morning, I sorted through my available ingredients and began one of Daniel Leader’s great recipes. I had to rule out Monkey Bread, because I didn’t have the right pan, and I didn’t have any bread flour left for the yummy looking Brioche Muffins. Actually, several of the recipes call for bread flour, which I usually have on hand, as it has a higher gluten content. At any rate, I decided to try to try the “Lightly Shaped Parker House Rolls” for supper, to be served with my homemade chicken and rice soup. I remind you, dear reader, to a) NOT read this book before bed (unless you want the visions of jam-filled Berliners dancing through your head) and, b) to make an effort to stock your cupboard with the usual bread-maker’s supplies, including instant yeast, bread flour, etc., which are delineated so well in Leader’s book.
This morning, I started the “pre-ferment,” a fairly new technique for me, which I learned to refine and utilize while reading this book. (BTW, all the pictures herein are of my own efforts, not from the book – so except for the book cover, above, what you are looking at, for better or for worse, is Laura’s baking! 🙂 )
Then, late in the afternoon, I finished up the rolls and set them out to rise while getting the finishing touches done on the soup. I know it seems odd to be eating soup when it is 115 outside in this overly-hot Arizona summer – but it is a stove-top job, and makes for great quick lunches later in the week!
Gritting my teeth at having the oven on in our little place when it is in the high-80’s inside, even with A/C , I popped the rolls in the oven for the requisite 18-20 minutes. Oh. My. Ambrosia! The recipe stated it made 24 rolls, but since I like big – there were 20 hot, buttery rolls. Okay. Confession time. I didn’t have much soup! Leader states the rolls are better eaten fresh, and truly, we did our best! The leftovers I froze, per Leader’s instructions, for a treat later in the week.
I love(d) the fact that the recipes in this book are so all encompassing. Bagel recipes take place along with Ciabata Rolls (my next adventure) sweet breads, flat breads, and even a salad recipe and extras. Bialys recipes dance through the pages, along with Navajo Bread, Challah and Berliners. The instructions are detailed, the index and resource pages fantastic. Leader includes equivalency charts, and the recipe ingredients will work whether you are American or European. I really appreciated the Glossary of Baking Terms as well, for although I am an experienced baker and bread maker, it was nice to have all of it in the same place for reference.
Bottom line – I really recommend this book. I admit I get a lot of recipes off the internet these days, to save space, but this one will go on my bookshelf along with half-a dozen of my treasured family favorites. It would make a great gift as well – package it along with a personally crafted gift basket, with special ingredients, pans and homemade towels or jelly for an added fillip. ENJOY!