I sometimes consume cookbooks like novels: from cover to cover, including all anecdotes and instructions, as much for entertainment as for inspiration. So when a beautiful new book appears on the scene, it calls out to me to be read and relished. Simply Great Breads: Sweet and Savory Yeasted Treats from America’s Premier Artisan Baker came out last year with “Notable Cookbooks of 2011” approbation from The New York Times. It is indeed a delicious morsel of a book, full of mouthwatering photographs that tempt even the most inept home cook to experiment. From recipes for authentic bagels, crumpets, English muffins and Navajo fry bread to doughnuts, chocolate babka and caramel monkey bread, clear instructions and easy-to-decipher ingredient amounts allow you to produce delectable yeasted breads in your own kitchen.
That is just what the authors Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman had in mind. “The whole purpose of Simply Great Breads was to have a book with a collection of simple, straightforward recipes that either the novice or the experienced baker would feel comfortable making,” says Leader. “I purposely didn’t include sourdough breads or breads with a lot of complicated starters.”
Leader’s local fame as founder of Bread Alone Bakery is well-deserved. His first books, Bread Alone (with Judith Blahnik) and Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe’s Best Artisan Bakers (also with Chattman), are veritable tomes of bread history and traditional methods, gleaned from his travels throughout Europe in search of the essential in breadmaking. Each is a serious treatise with in-depth information on the process of grains becoming bread, from growing to milling to baking according to traditional ways.
In another collaboration with Chattman, Panini Express features 70 recipes “hot off the press” including flatbreads, ciabatta, pizza, focaccia and baguettes, plus a variety of condiments and ingredients to turn them into scrumptious meals. Simply Great Breads is the perfect addition to Leader’s repertoire, proving that the staff of life is as varied as the people across the planet producing it. “It’s a great little book. It’s selling really well, and people are very excited about it.”
Leader will be at bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy this Saturday, January 14 from 3 until 6 p.m. to sign books and “talk about whatever people want me to talk about.” Bring your questions and your eager tastebuds. He’ll be serving up samples of goodies from Simply Great Breads, along with tales of his travels and sage breadmaking advice.
Bluecashew is located on Montgomery Street in the heart of Rhinebeck. Call (845) 876-1117 or visit www.bluecashew.com for more information.