Stand mixers were developed to make the process of baking easier for commercial bakers, and they caught on with home bakers who wanted to be able to do things more easily, too. Mixers definitely made the process of mixing bread dough and whisking up cake batter a lot easier, and the machines became so popular that they were gradually accepted as a standard tool for the serious home cook. But not everyone has a stand mixer and we shouldn’t forget that everything you can make in a mixer can also be made by hand. Baking By Hand: Make the Best Artisanal Breads and Pastries Better Without a Mixer is a cookbook that will encourage you to get more hands-on with your baking, whether you have a stand mixer or not, and take their recipes back to basics. Many bakers who primarily use their mixers will be surprised to find that baking by hand isn’t quite as difficult as they thought it would be – and that it is a lot of fun.
The book opens with an introduction that will tell you how to turn your kitchen into an artisan bakery – without any fancy equipment. You just need to pay attention to the warmer and cooler spots in your kitchen to find the best places for proofing dough, and keep a spray bottle of water near your oven to mimic the “steam injection” effect of a fancier range. From there, it moves on to basic tools and ingredients that you’ll want to have handy to put the recipes together (there aren’t many of them!), as well as a crash course in how to knead and shape loaves of bread by hand.
Now, the book jumps into the recipes and covers everything from artisan sourdoughs to buttery cinnamon buns and seasonal tarts. You’ll get savory sandwich fillings, too, so you can make some amazing sandwiches with your home baked bread once you have it. The recipes cover technique very well and make the bread (and pastry) baking process easy. You will also get a good timeline to go with the recipes so that you can plan your baking easily around your schedule. Everything is illustrated with beautiful photographs, as well. The only thing missing is the smell of freshly baked bread – and you can add that yourself when you start on your first loaf.
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