Whilst it’s true that there are more of us baking bread these days, it’s also evident that there are many more who think of bread making as a mix of alchemy and terror. Homemade Breads by Ciril Hitz will offer a wealth of new recipes for the experienced baker and lots of advice and hand-holding for the novice.
This is an attractive book with step-by-step photographs by Ron Manville. The techniques are not complicated but a picture paints a thousand words: it’s reassuring to see exactly what the dough should look like, the shape of a roll or the finished loaf. Ciril shows the 5-strand braid which I have long wanted to learn but which has been impossible for me to master. Now, with the aid of pictures, all my bread will be braided and beautiful.
You might not have heard of Ciril Hitz. I confess that I had not, although his credentials are impeccable. He is US-based but has won numerous awards including the silver medal at the celebrated Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (World Cup of Bakers) in Paris. Now, the French are not ones to give away gongs to foreigners so you can imagine that the silver medal was well earned.
Handmade Breads divides the world of dough into 10 sections, and offers several different breads from each of those distinctly different doughs. Each recipe is clear and easy to follow. There are 40 or so bread-based treats to enjoy and something for everyone. From the simple white sandwich dough, for example, you can produce Cinnamon Spice Swirl Bread, Raisin Rolls and whole wheat bread.
The Baguette Dough is a good start with lots of ideas for shaping. Breadsticks are made from the baguette dough and how impressive would they be when next you present an Italian meal, and home-made Ciabatta and Focaccia are always great with lovely fresh fillings or with some rustic and chunky soup.
Ciril Hitz has written a book that makes bread making accessible to everyone. Bread baking fills your home with a lovely and comforting aroma. It’s the real thing and so different from the supermarket French Stick or the tasteless White Sliced that has been the staple in so many of our homes.
Handmade Breads – Simple Techniques for Baking Better Bread
Author: Ciril Hitz
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018