There is nothing like freshly baked, homemade bread. The no-knead artisan bread recipes that started spreading around in the past couple of years rekindled an interest in home bread baking by making bread baking seem easy and accessible. Recipes like that are a good place to start, but once you get a taste for making your own, you just might want to take bread baking a step further and explore other artisanal recipes and expand your repertoire. Amy’s Bread, Revised and Updated is an updated, reprinted version of a cookbook that is packed full of great bread recipes, none of which are based on the quick mix model.
The breads in this cookbook are beautiful, rustic and flavorful. They start out with high quality ingredients and use time tested – and time consuming – mixing techniques that have been used for years in New York’s popular Amy’s Bakery. I mention time consuming because these breads take time. Many of the recipes call for multiple rises or start out with bigas (proto-doughs used to develop flavor and enhance texture). You won’t have to sit over the bowl and watch your dough develop, but you will have to check back on it. With recipes like Semolina Bread with Apricots and Sage or Coarse Ground Whole Wheat Bread with Toasted Walnuts, the results are well worth a little bit of extra time in the kitchen! There are also some quick breads and plenty of ideas for sandwiches and things to put your homemade breads to good use, as well.
These recipes are easy to follow along with and measurements are given by both weight (US and metric) and by volume. What makes them easy to follow along with is that the instructions are very detailed, keeping both beginning and experienced bakers on the right track. It’s always great to have descriptions of what your dough should look and feel like as you work with it. Finally, if you’re not in New York and can’t visit Amy’s for inspiration, there are plenty of photos to inspire you to start baking. That bakery smell, however, is something that you’ll have to recreate in your own kitchen when you start with your first recipe.