Baking with Passion (Baker & Spice) Paperback – Illustrated, 20 Aug 2010
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It's unusual for a book on baking to do full justice to the whole, glorious range of the baker's art--from the robust and primitive physicality of bread-making, through exquisite cakes and biscuits, to the most rarefied patisserie. Baking With Passion is that book. Inspirational in the highest degree, it will send seasoned bakers back to the kitchen and embolden the most timid cook to start kneading. Dan Lepard is probably the hottest baker (figuratively speaking) in London, while Richard Whittington is busily establishing a reputation as one of the best cookery writers in the business. The fountainhead of their book is the London bakery Baker and Spice, where Lepard is consultant baker. The productions of this business, which delight a growing and enthusiastic retail clientele and are also supplied to many of the top restaurants in the capital, have been skilfully reinterpreted for the domestic kitchen and the unprofessional baker. Everything here can and should be reproduced in the home.
This is not to say that the recipes are unchallenging. Baking, as embodied here, is perhaps the most demanding branch of cooking in what it asks of the cook's patience, commitment and willingness to meet the highest standards of integrity in technique and choice of ingredients. Once these are met, however, the rewards are stunning. Particular highlights among the breads include the San Francisco Sourdough, one of the greatest breads in the world; a Garlic Bread made with whole garlic cloves braised with balsamic vinegar and a perfect Focaccia. Among the varieties of cake, the exquisite Lemon, Apricot and Carrot recipes stand out. Pear Tarte Renversée (a form of Tatin), Pithiviers and a simple but sensationally good Croissant recipe are the highlights of the section dealing with patisserie. --Robin Davidson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Dan Lepard is acclaimed as one of the finest bakers in the world. He has worked at some of London's hottest restaurants including Alastair Little, St John and Locanda Locatelli and was consultant baker at Baker & Spice. His irresistible weekly column in the Guardian Weekend magazine has brought him a huge and loyal following. Richard Whittington is a highly respected food writer who has written many successful books about food and cooking, including Alastair Little: Keep it Simple and Home Food. After first opening in September 1995, Baker & Spice has developed a great reputation for exceptional breads, cakes and pastries. It now has 3 branches all in London.
Top customer reviews
The photographic quality of the pictures in the book is rather sensational. Nothing like the sterile food photography just for the sake of pleasing the eye. If a sourdough starter may develop a crust, then you will see a photo of a sourdough starter with a crust. Period. The photos really show what it will look like when you do it at home.
My favorites are "Dan's garlic bread" (using three whole bulbs of garlic) and all of the sourdough breads. I haven't had the nerve to tackle the fragile tart or croissant doughs yet. Highly recommended.
In recent months I have been looking for a good guide to working with wild yeasts in my baking and the first section in the book is a pretty comprehensive guide to this increasingly popular art/science. This is, at times, a little unusual - with some additions that purists might question but I am certain that most home cooks will only be worried as to whether things work rather than whether it conforms to some archaic rules.
Alongside the breads, there is a good range of cake, biscuit and savouries recipes to tempt you into the kitchen. Most of the ingredients are readily available and the techniques are clearly explained. I can't wait to try the recipe for the rustic bread with three whole heads of garlic inside - that looks divine. And there are other similarly inviting ideas to consider - many well illustrated with good photography.
If I have one criticism, it is the insistence on using bottled water. I am sorry but, for most home cooks, what comes out of the tap is perfectly adequate for their needs. It might make a slight difference to the end result but it is a tad too pretentious for me to consider reaching for a bottle of Evian or something similar!
Overall this has made a useful addition to my growing collection of baking books - but I don't think I will be following it completely to the letter!
Although most of the recipes are time-consuming and somewhat complicated (and I had to invest in a second-hand Kenwood mixer), the results are worthwhile. But the recipe for wholemeal bread using commercial easy-bake yeast is a lot simpler than other recipes I have used, and the resulting bread is much better.
If you want to bake real bread with real taste, get this book. I guarantee you will never touch the pre-wrapped sliced stuff from your supermarket again!
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