What on earth is a “Breadhead”? It is a dedicated baker, someone who bakes often, who thinks and dreams about bread and is not afraid to experiment. And in How to Be a Breadhead: A Beginner’s Guide to Baking, by Father Dominic (“The Bread Monk” of PBS television fame), you’ll learn more than just basic techniques—you’ll ﬁnd out why yeast behaves the way it does, how to substitute different flours in a recipe, and how to take a simple dough and make it extraordinary for a special occasion. All in a friendly style of instruction, with helpful photos and illustrations. He also has a Bread Blog which can be found at www.breadmonk.com.
I have made yeast breads many times, but I would not consider myself an expert by any means. So while reading through the lessons prior to the actual recipes, I learned a few things I thought I should share:
- There is about a 5% difference between measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients. I knew there was, but didn’t know exactly. When measuring out several cups of flour it adds up!
- You will use a little less flour in a recipe when using bread flour instead of all-purpose because it has a greater content of proteins.
- When doubling a recipe requiring yeast, you do not need to double the amount of yeast. One package of yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp) is enough for every 4 cups of flour.
- The gluten matrix formed during kneading is what helps bread hold its shape even when baked free-form.
- A traditional way to test for bread doneness is to thump the bottom after removing from the pan – if it sounds hollow it’s done.
- The best blades for slicing bread are not serrate but wavy. Add one to your wishlist!
Once I finished absorbing as much knowledge as I could, I set out to try some of the recipes. First I tried the Pull Apart Garlic Bread using the basic white dough. It was fun getting my fingers dirty (literally) by dipping these into a butter-herb mixture before allowing them to rise in the pan before baking. And they really did pull apart!
Then I got a little fancy with the basic sweet dough and made Butterfly Breakfast Rolls with Nutella. It was very must like making cinnamon rolls, except you cut them at alternating angles and squish them down on the smaller sides to make a butterfly image! I have to admit I also thought it kind of looked like a chameleon face! Rango anyone?
Definitely glad I have this cookbook in my collection. It is a great resource for yeast doughs and breads!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of How to Be a Breadhead from Reedy Press. I was not sompensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.