Anna: Well this book certainly sucked me in.
Kirstin: I’m sorry that it’s the end of the month already. I just found a few more recipes that I’d love to try out.
Maureeen: I didn’t think we’d get a full month of baking bread, and yet here we are.
Anna: I’ll definitely be trying more after my spectacular sourdough failure. And I will be trying the sourdough again. The starter is sitting in the fridge, waiting to be used.
Kirstin: I have loved cooking from this book and have recommended it to lots of people too. It has totally encouraged me to cook bread from scratch. I even gave our bread machine away last week. I wouldn’t recommend it on the kindle though because it’s difficult to navigate around the pages when you’re cooking and have hands covered in dough.
Maureen: Now that I figured out that the key to the success of a rising dough is putting it on the radiator, I think I’m slightly addicted to the “big reveal” when I see if the dough has risen or not.
Anna: Peter also did the pizza dough which was the first time he’s used any other recipe than Jamie’s Italian. And we all loved it so we will definitely be doing that again.
Maureen: We will definitely be giving his pizza recipe a go. This book definitely has me making more bread, something I always thought was too complicated to do. Now I know that I all I need to do is some forward planning.
Overall Grade (A- F): Kirstin: A. Anna: B. Maureen: B+
Best recipes: Kirstin: Oh God, the focaccia. Anna: basic white bread. Maureen: I’m with Kirstin. The focaccia was brilliant (no pun intended).
Grade for Photography (A-F): Kirstin: A
Any disasters? Anna: *laughs* Sourdough. Maureen: The fact that the breadsticks didn’t have a time element on the baking was a bit of an epic fail, but I figured it out in the end.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf. Anna: Bookshelf.
Yes, I know this is a repeat post, but this bears repeating:
THIS FOCACCIA IS AMAZING.
Kirstin had told me how wonderful it was, so I had to give it a go to see if she was right. She was.
Again, this one does require some planning ahead. One of the perks of working from home, though, is if I decide at 1 p.m. that we should have bread with dinner that night, I still have time to make it happen. However, it’s got to be said I’m not a great one for forward planning, but I’m trying to get better.
As I was already planning ahead, I also took the time to make our favourite forward planning meal: tomato sauce and meatballs from Polpo. Full of Yum.
This bread was very straightforward to make. Now that I abide by the top tip to rise all my breads on the radiator in the back reception room, we are in the bread making business. It wasn’t difficult, I just had a small task to do every hour or so. It was worth the effort.
All in all, we agreed: FULL OF YUM.
If you want to make this– and we both heartily recommend that you– click through this sentence to James Morton’s website, where he has the recipe and a very useful video.
Nicholas (10): Yum! Breadsticks!
Andrew (14): These are great.
Tim: I like these too.
Maureen: You don’t think they’re overdone?
Tim: Not at all. Why?
Maureen: Well, in his infinite wisdom, James did not say how long the breadsticks had to be in the oven. Epic fail, if you ask me. So I checked how long it took the rolls– 10 minutes– and went with that.
Tim: I think they’re perfect.
Maureen: Well that was lucky then.
Nicholas: These are really good with the tomato soup.
Maureen: I was looking for something I could make relatively quickly because I failed to plan ahead. These didn’t take all day, which is why I made them.
Andrew: Will you make them again?
Maureen: I don’t see why not, especially since I now know how long they take in the oven.
This was amazing. Would I make this again? Yes, but I might remember to soak the raisins in coffee the night before. I bet that would a wonderful complexity to the flavour.
And I think little Isabella liked it too!
Tom traditionally makes our pizza dough. Over the years he has honed the recipe, taking advice from people and various books. So he was surprised when I said I wanted to have a go at the pizza dough from Brilliant Bread. It’s a super simple recipe to follow and I really do feel I have earned my glass of wine after ten minutes of kneading the dough. Unfortunately, the pizzas are so good, we have gobbled them up straight away and there are no pictures. But you can be assured that there will be no other pizza dough recipes from now on. This is the business.
I made this focaccia at least once a week during the Christmas holidays, if not twice. I cannot recommend the recipe highly enough and if this is the only vaguely decent picture I have of it, it’s because it always gets eaten straight away before any cameras get to it.
This was the first recipe I tried for “Brilliant Bread” and I approached it with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement because I know Kirstin loves this book and thinks it is the Bees Knees, and trepidation in that while I have made bread successfully in the past, it does seem to be one of those things that can go horribly, horribly wrong.
I mixed the ingredients together, put a piece of cling film over them, and then waited for the magic to happen. And waited. And waited. This was the dough that would not rise. By the time our Resident Bread Expert (aka Tim) arrived home, it still hadn’t risen at all. He took one look at the sad bowl on the kitchen counter and immediately diagnosed the problem: Our cold, drafty kitchen in January is no place for a bread dough to rise.
I moved the dough to his usual rising place– on top of the radiator in the back reception room– and then we were in business. There were some minor issues with the yeast not completely dissolving in the dough, so the next time I make this I will probably mix the yeast in with the milk first and then add that together, rather than doing it separately, as outlined in the recipe. But other than that, it worked. Hooray.
I think the potential for disaster comes down to the fact that you need to think about the science behind the process. You can’t just bang things together and hope for the best, which is a system I’ve been known to do for dinner. You have to be slow, methodical and patient. Anyone who knows me well also knows that those are three attributes that I don’t really possess. (Except when I’m running. Then I’m REALLY slow. But I digress.)
In the end, we had the rolls not with dinner, as I had planned, but as Bacon Butties the next day for breakfast. Everyone agreed: Soft Rolls = FTW*!
*For The Win for those of you not down with the lingo