July 7, 2014

Book Review: Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book

I have been making bread for years and some time ago I stopped using a recipe. While I can definitely make a good basic loaf by feel, at some point it started to drift away from good towards mediocre. I decided I should go back to using a recipe to shed any bad techniques I'd developed and make my loaf great again. 

Since I only cook with whole wheat flour (King Arthur white whole wheat in particular because that's what is available at my local grocery store) I opened up the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book (subtitled A Guide To Whole-Grain Breadmaking) by Laurel Robertson with Carol Fliners and Bronwen Godfrey. I've had this book for a decade but I think the only thing I baked from it was sourdough (all I remember about that is I don't like the smell of fermenting rye flour!).

I should have returned to this book long ago! The Basic Whole Wheat (page 80) is fantastic. I experimented with the suggested variations: butter, oil, and without fat- all are wonderful although butter is my favorite. Since I started making yogurt again I've been using whey instead of water and as the weather became warmer I cut the amount of yeast in half because it was rising too fast... It's a versatile bread.

The whole wheat challah is phenomenal although it always seems too wet so I reduce the eggs by one and the total liquid to 2 cups. I make the raisin version which is a delicious sandwich bread. FYI, toasting really brings out something special in challah.