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Baking a Difference

Crust

Dough


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Cookbook Collection:
Richard and Jo Bertinet

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Baking a Difference

Crust

Dough


Richard and Jo Bertinet - Baking a Difference

Richard Bertinet This probably was love at first bite! Richard Bertinet had no other idea than to become a baker. His uncle had a bakery in Paris and his mum used to work behind the counter in a baker’s shop. Richard would haunt the local bakery to watch the befloured and T-shirted men (could fancy that myself!) working at the hot ovens.

Richard started his career in earnest when he was still at school. He would spend half his time at his lessons and then the other half and weekends at the bakery. After leaving school he continued his training at a number of bakeries in Brittany and also with the Grand Moulin de Paris.

In the mid 1980’s Richard moved to the UK and his catering journey progressed via the Chewton Glen Hotel, Hampshire, becoming head chef at the Rhinefield House Hotel in the New Forest. The Silver Plough at Pitton in Salisbury is where in 1990 he was awarded Egon Ronay’s Pub of the Year, and American Express Magazine’s UK Pub of the Year.

In 1996, a position as Operations Director with the Novelli Group of restaurants brought him to London, where in 1998 he started advising small food-related businesses. After leaving Novelli Richard started working with a number of small businesses helping them to improve the quality of their food, and the business flourished such that he set up the Dough Co., his consultancy business, in 2000.

Between 2000 and 2004, Richard split his time between consultancy work, advising on the development of new products for several supermarket chains, teaching at London cookery school Divertimenti, and writing.

In 2004, with a young family, Richard and his wife Jo decided that it was time to leave London and head west to be closer to Jo's family. The plans for The Bertinet Kitchen began to take shape and they found the premises at 12 St Andrew's Terrace, Bath, at the tail end of that year. The cookery school opened in September 2005 in the same month that Richard's first baking book, DOUGH, was published. The Bertinet Kitchen has done so well that it is the winner of Tourism Experience of the Year 2008/9 South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

“I have been a baker almost all of my life and crazy about bread since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until I started teaching people how to bake simple breads at home that I really appreciated what fun, and what a sense of achievement almost everyone experiences when they realise, for the first time, what can be done with some flour, yeast, water and a little salt.”

I asked Jo if she also had a catering background. “Nope – until June 2005 I was a commercial litigation lawyer in the city at one of the big international firms – I had done that for 13 years but found it difficult to combine with a family, so the cookery school was a way for Richard and I to work together and combine our talents.”

Has Richard noticed a change in British food since he first moved to the UK? He remembers his arrival in 1988. “In Britain I knew there was a strong tradition of home baking, but when I arrived here I was shocked to find that very few people were bothering to any more, not because there was a fantastic bakery around every corner, but because the staple diet was the sliced white loaf.” Jo and Richard both agree that things are much better these days. “Absolutely yes – much improved – there has been a complete revolution in this country and in many places it is now much better than France,” says Jo.

Even if you marry a chef it’s likely that you will be the one cooking for the kids. “I tend to cook for the children but Richard usually cooks for friends – we eat very informally at home – lots of simple French and British home cooking.”

Would Richard and Jo be happy if the kids wanted to become bakers? The hours are said to be horrible! “I am sure Richard would be happy that they wanted to follow in his footsteps but I can think of much easier ways to make a good living!”

So, plans for the future? I can tell you that Richard is working on another couple of books. All those of us who appreciated his first two look forward to more.

Richard Bertinet Bread


food and travel reviews Richard and Jo Bertinet

Crust

This is the second bread book by Bath-based baker Richard Bertinet and doesn’t disappoint. If you have Dough in your cookbook collection you will already have reserved a bit of space just next to it for this sequel.

Crust Richard has a very different technique for kneading dough but if you follow his method you will be producing the lightest bread imaginable. Crust is the book for you if you have failed in the past to produce a loaf that is anything other than brick-like.

Photographer Jean Cazals has, once again, produced fine pictures that illustrate the process of bread making. The combination of Richard’s written instructions and Jean’s photographs enable you to feel confident that you can, with practice, achieve a professional and tasty loaf, or Bath Bun, or Gingerbread Biscuit...or many other delicious baked treats.

Crust, like Dough, has a DVD included which gives detailed instructions for the slightly more complicated breads like Sourdough. I say more complicated but it’s not a difficult process to make fabulous traditional Sourdough. Richard takes the fear out of fermented bread and teaches you that, yes, you can do this at home. You are missing something very special if you have never tasted Sourdough bread. It has a flavourful tang that is unique.

Home bread-making allows you to use different types of flour to produce, using the same kneading and baking process, amazingly different breads. There are no additives to increase shelf life, no flavour enhancers. You have total control over the bread your family eats. Your additives will be some whole grains, some raisins, some nuts.

Richard was born in Brittany so it’s no surprise that he also includes Croissants and my very favourite, Brioche. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine to present warm, fragrant, sweet breads for Sunday breakfast. All the information is in this book to enable you to impress the in-laws with your skill, and I promise that shop-bought croissants will never cross your threshold ever again.

Most of us eat bread every day. It’s a healthy part of our diet if we make good choices. There are lots of different flours to try that will help to improve digestion and manage problems like wheat intolerance. You take care to buy the best fruit, vegetables, meat and fish because it’s important to give your family good food. Baking your own bread is another way (and an easy, fun way) of ensuring flavourful and nutritious meals...and the kids will never ask for white sliced again.

Crust
Author: Richard Bertinet
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £19.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-720-5

food and travel reviews Richard and Jo Bertinet

Dough

This chap Richard Bertinet has really got something here. It’s a totally different approach to bread-making and it’s explained and illustrated in his book Dough.

Dough I am ashamed to say that I didn’t know much about Richard’s work before reading this book but now I am an enthusiastic convert of this man from Brittany. I make bread about twice a week so this will be a hands-on adventure.

How can Richard’s method of bread-making be so very different from others? Have a look at the DVD (each copy of the book comes with one) and you will see. I would say that the DVD is an essential part of understanding and enjoying the process. I will go further and say that if I had used Richard’s recipe for basic dough but my usual method of kneading, I would have been shocked and I probably would have complained about a printing error!

It’s all about...well, the dough! It’s far softer that regular dough and gives the impression of being just one step away from sauce! Watch the DVD and you will see Richard transform this unpromising semi-liquid into the silkiest, airiest dough you would ever have seen. You will be as amazed as I was and will want to have a go right away.

Dough starts with Richard’s basic bread recipes and takes us down different avenues. By the time you have finished reading the book and practised a bit you will be able to make 50 varieties of scrumptious, professional-looking bread.

Richard offers examples of dozens of the usual bread suspects but also some spectacular additions which will become as popular as Delia’s Sticky Toffee Pudding, quicker than you can say Mon Dieu!  Puff balls are light hollow spheres just waiting to be filled with some kind of extraordinary salad. What a presentation! Or how about a soup bowl made from bread, or an Apricot and Oat loaf made from Richard’s brown bread dough. Who could resist a home-made doughnut from the sweet dough chapter? Any of us who are transported by those delicious Mediterranean breads will love Richard’s olive dough and the colourful and sun-filled breads made from it.

The photography by Jean Cazals is marvellous. Not only does he show the finished breads to perfection but also the illustrations of the step-by-step method are helpful and easy to follow. This large format book and its DVD is a real winner.

Dough
Author: Richard Bertinet
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £15.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-762-5

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