Here at The Madhouse, we have a bread machine and it's constantly on the go. There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking in your kitchen and eating that first slice slathered in butter when it's still hot is a real moment of pleasure, even though I've been baking bread for years now. However, a few months back, I had a go at baking my bread all by myself, without the bread machine, and it just seemed so much more satisfying. Not to mention the bread (which you can see here) which looked so much more rustic and authentic than anything the bread machine can produce.
I therefore loved the idea behind the title, Five Minute Bread, and was keen to see how it would all work when I was offered the book to review. Making bread in just five minutes seems unbelievably quick and simple. Well, just like Jamie Oliver and his Thirty Minute Meals, I do feel that five minutes is a slight exaggeration but the system does work really well.
You need to spend half an hour reading the introduction to the book to understand the concept and the master recipe. You will basically produce a simple dough that you can keep in the fridge for a fortnight, hacking off and cooking a lump every day to make your daily bread.
This basic dough recipe can be modified in innumerable ways, to create a vast number of different and delicious sounding breads, ranging from chocolate bread and cinnamon rolls to bagels, pretzels and Italian-inspired tomato and parmesan bread. Just flicking through, I have seen so many recipes, both sweet and savoury, that I can't wait to try.
The "five minute bread dough" took me about 15 minutes to prepare, but I'm sure I'll get quicker the more I do it. I had a bit of an issue with it sticking to my knife when cutting and slashing but it really does produce lovely bread with no kneading which impressed me. The longer it stays in the fridge, the more it takes on a "sourdough" flavour and, although I wasn't sure I'd like this when I read about it in the book, it actually tastes nicer the longer you leave it. I love the fact that no two loaves, even from the same batch of dough, will look or taste identical because even the dough is constantly changing.
The recipes call for unbleached flour, which I initially had trouble finding, then realised pretty much all flour in the UK is unbleached anyway. My one piece of advice is don't overthink it and try to make it more complicated than it is - it is as unbelievably simple as it sounds, even if five minutes is pushing it, especially as you then have to add on cooking time.
Even if you've never made bread before, the concept is so simple that you'll be making delicious homemade breads with very little work and very little room for error. Reading the book in detail shows you how much effort the authors - one a scientist with a love of bread, one a trained pastry chef and baker - have put into perfecting their technique and recipes. They've taken all the guesswork and effort out so that you can just sit back and reap the rewards. I bet you'll never buy bread from a shop again !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £14.99
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Ebury Press (6 Jan 2011)
for more information : http://www.eburypublishing.co.uk/viewbook.asp?isbn=0091938945
to buy online : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Five-Minute-Bread-revolutionary-kneading/dp/0091938945 (currently £9.25)
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