Bread Revolution by Duncan Glendinning and Patrick Ryan
Right from the moment you look at the cover of Bread Revolution the tone is set. On the front is a pair of likely lads looking like a right pair of cheeky bakers. However, do not be fooled. Patrick and Duncan know their stuff and have set up their own successful award winning artisan bakers, The Thoughtful Bread Company, in South West England.
There is something quite earnest about this book. The pair’s passion for bread as the “king of the table” comes through in abundance. As with many baking books that have come before, they want to bring back real bread, away from the sweaty plastic bag mass-produced loaf. They urge the reader to create their own loaf that has been crafted with love, shaped by hand, using seasonal and locally sourced or foraged ingredients.
Duncan and Patrick’s aim is to take the home baker on a journey. They start with an explanation about ingredients, including what you can get for free by foraging, the tools you need and then they talk about knowing your dough. They cover the basics in detail and useful terms are explained and demonstrated using photographs. They start the recipes with an Everyday White Bread. So far so good. But then, and possibly the only weakness with this book, after a gentle progressive introduction it launches into Tiger Bread and Fragrant Nettle and Chive Bread. Your hand is held for 35 or so pages and then the recipes suddenly appear daunting (even if, in reality they aren’t.) There is no chronological order where the baker is led from novice to more experienced, which can be a little frustrating.
Despite this the bread recipes provided are artisan and inspiring. In addition a non-bread recipe is provided to go with each bread. With the Local Cheese Loaf you also get a recipe that enhances its flavour – a Beetroot Chutney and a Pear Salad. The Stone Baked Flatbread comes with an Easy Chicken Curry that is packed full of flavour.
The bread recipes include savoury and sweet as well as sourdough. I was a little taken aback by the inclusion of milk in the sourdough starter – this is not a conventional method. However, sour milk does contain lactic acid so there is a degree of synergy there.
The photography is inspiring. Often shot outside, showing people feasting on the bread or using the natural world as a backdrop emphasising the two bakers’ foraging passion.
The book isn’t prescriptive. The home baker is encouraged to scribble notes all over the book, to experiment, to make the recipes their own. No doubt for a young person, and by young I mean literally young and young at heart, this book has a fun and fresh ethos with a slightly masculine vibe. It takes the myths away from baking and is written with all the gusto you need to just have a go.