This is a different kind of TBT cookbook review. True, this book was published in 2006, so it is celebrating its tenth year of distinction. When it appeared, Dough was lauded by all and won awards around the world: the Julia Child Award, the IACP Best Cookbook of the Year, and the James Beard Foundation award. It’s both award-winning and a classic.
And, now, it’s back in a 10th Anniversary edition complete with an instructional DVD to make your bread making even simpler. Richard is a baker, teacher, and exceptional writer. Reviewing this new edition, you are immediately impressed with the mixture of detail and simplicity. The breads here range from the very simple to the grandly elegant, yet each one is designed to be fashioned by home bakers that have not spent two years in France working 14 hours a day starring before the sun rises.
How important is bread? It is the core food that made civilization possible. When we stopped being hunter/gatherers, and wanted to settle in villages, it was bread that made that monumental change possible. Bread in some form: round, raised, flat, soft, hard, loaves or rolls or sheets. But bread. The amazing thing is that flour + water + some more things can yield such a range of ideas that have provided the core food for societies around the world.
Now, the subtitle of Dough is Simple Contemporary Bread and those words, “simple” and “contemporary,” are key. The recipes here are direct and, with all the instruction provided, yes they are simple. You can bake bread, these breads. And the breads here do yield contemporary, happy ideas vibrant in flavor and often color. For example, here’s Richard’s brilliant Tomato, Garlic, and Basil Bread:
Yes, I’ll post the recipe for you in the next couple of days. And, yes, warm from the oven, paired with salad and wine, this bread becomes “the meal.”
After over 30 pages of introduction and instruction — remember there is the DVD too! — Dough presents bread option in five chapters. Here are the chapters with some representative ideas:
- White Dough: Fougasse; Olive, Herb, and Romano Breadsticks; Gruyere Cheese and Cumin Bread
- Olive Dough: Coarse Salt & Rosemary Focaccia; Pancetta and Mixed Olive Bread; Ciabatta
- Brown Dough: Apricot and Oat Bread; Honey and Lavender Loaf; Raisin, Hazelnut and Shallot Bread
- Rye Dough: Walnut Bread; Rye, Caraway, and Raisin Bread; Anise and Guinness Bread
- Sweet Dough: Orange and Mint Loaf; Apricot and Almond Tart; Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding
With these recipe titles you see the full impact of Richard’s passion for contemporary breads. His skill at classic breads is undisputed, but in Dough you discover his striking use of additional flavors to boost your bread from “mere” bread to “exceptional” bread. Nuts, herbs, seeds, veggies, meat, cheese, and beer appear here, often in combinations that will be intense both in flavor and appearance.
If you have never ever made bread, if that mere thought of making bread gives you enormous pause, then Dough is a book to consider. It was great ten years ago. It is great now. And, if you use Dough, it will be great for every loaf in the rest of your life.