Who doesn’t love bread? Whether it’s a vehicle to carry proteins or veggies as a sandwich, a sponge to soak up fruity olive oil and herbs, tomato sauce or gravy, or just a plain slice of bread toasted with melting butter and jam, bread is loved by all. Martin Johansson has written Bread Bread Bread: Recipes, Advice & Shortcuts, a beautiful book, that simplifies the art of bread making with tips and recipe shortcuts to make the task less daunting.
Johansson wrote this title to regain control over baking which had taken over his days and sometimes nights. Here, he has simplified the baking process so that it would be approachable by any level cook or baker. He has eliminated kneading altogether – which begs for the pun – there is no need to knead in his recipes.
He shares breads that are quick, slow, hard, soft, sour and sweet – all with the easiest method possible. Johansson begins with a dozen tips and shortcuts – the most important of which is “Don’t be disappointed if the bread doesn’t look exactly like the photos. It doesn’t when I bake, either.” That statement alone is a comfort especially to those of us new to bread baking.
I’ve always wanted to be a bread baker. I have made brioche, soda and brown breads, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls and even my own puff pastry (which isn’t technically bread but was a huge accomplishment and I felt the need to work that statement in this review) but never have I expanded my skills beyond those basics. Honestly, this book eliminates any trace that remains of my bread phobia.
The author delivers two sets of instructions for those with a stand mixer and those without – and also gives two methods in the loaves chapter. He either mixes the dough and lets it rise overnight or for a day or he uses a technique called “rest and fold” which he states is an easy way to achieve an elastic dough without kneading, all with step-by-step illustrations.
Recipes for Walnut Bread, Apple Bread with Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seed Rolls, Breadsticks, Tortillas, Naan, Hamburger Buns, Hot Dog Buns and even Bagels are covered. The photographs which we are told not to invest too much energy in are beautiful and the style of the book with muted colors and stark black pages reflects the tone of the author. Sourdoughs are covered in detail and Johansson even instructs us on what to do when we go on vacation. We have pet sitters – but who among us has a sourdough sitter? Sweet rolls, biscotti and fancy braided loaves finish up this charming book.
The last thing I wanted to do with a busy schedule of deadlines, meal preparation, errands and housework was to bake. I have a horrible confession to make – for one brief moment I contemplated if the local bakery would sell me brioche dough but I soldiered on and read over the Brioche Roll recipe. The bread god that wrote this book doesn’t lie – this brioche was easy and quicker than sneaking into a bakery in a floppy hat and sunglasses and begging for some dough.
The brioche rolls turned out heavenly, the smell throughout the house was insane and my husband and son think that I am a rock star. My only issue with the recipe was that the time stated 15 minutes or until golden brown. I set the timer for 14 minutes and I felt that they were a little too dark. I did my second batch that I had set aside for a brioche roll emergency (this isn’t my first rodeo) and those baked for 12 minutes and I loved the color that they achieved. Both were equally tasty, buttery and delicious.
For those times when we are feeling ambitious, those days when we wear our pearls to vacuum or when we have put in a 10-hour day at the office, this is the bread book for us – throw a few ingredients together while you are catching up on a television program – then the next evening while making dinner, bread can be baking in the oven. If that doesn’t work, weekends will be elevated with hot fresh bread or cinnamon rolls baking up, luring everyone into the kitchen to be in awe of the great bread bakers we have become.
Special thanks to Weldon Owen for sharing this recipe for the Brioche Rolls with our readers.
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- 1 package ( 1⁄4 oz/7 g) active dry yeast (2 1⁄4 tsp)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (10 oz/315 g) all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 cup (4 oz/125 g) cold butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- Pinch of salt
- Dough: Mix the yeast, eggs, sugar, salt, and flour in a bowl, either by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Gradually mix the butter into the dough. Continue mixing until the butter is well incorporated. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4–6 hours.
- Butter 14 brioche molds, each about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces. Shape 14 of the pieces into smooth balls (see page 216) and put into the molds. Make 14 small balls with the remaining dough. Make a small hole in each roll and top with a small ball.
- Put the molds on a baking sheet or tray, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for 1 hour at room temperature and then for 8 hours in the refrigerator (or 2–3 hours at room temperature). Make sure the plastic wrap doesn’t lie directly on the rolls because it will adhere to the sticky dough. When the rolls have doubled in size, or almost, they are ready to bake.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Egg Wash: Whisk the egg, water, and salt together and brush on the rolls. Bake the rolls until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Brioche is best when right out of the oven. If you make the brioche in loaf form, it will be excellent for toasting 2–3 days later. If the bread starts to dry out, you can use it for French toast.
© 2016 Martin Johannson
Recipe published by permission from Weldon Owen
Editor’s note: This recipe is printed courtesy of the publisher. The author of this review received a copy of the cookbook, Bread Bread Bread: Recipes, Advice & Shortcuts. No other compensation was received from the publisher. Links to the cookbook are affiliate links.
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