Sunday, November 29, 2009

This Book Makes Me Cook : Bread Alone

Bread makes you happy. Bread makes you friends. Fresh baked bread, in short, can set most things right. It certainly heals the broken heart of our heroine Wynter. The novel, our book club's pick for the month, seems all fluff at first glance. Your typical story of a trophy wife about to be divorced looking for solace in a job that involves baking bread.

But there is depth of feeling here. And there is nuance that makes "Bread Alone" a little bit more than yet another romance. I like the way Judith Ryan Hedricks builds the characters, going from their appearances to their lives to the emotions that intertwine them. And I love the fact that there are no minor characters here. Even the short-staying absentee cake baking partner makes a lasting impact. Wynter obviously does, in her vulnerable yet steely role, and in her transition. But bread remains the star - be it the age old recipes of the old bread baker Linda or the blizzard of new recipes Wynter brings in.



Baking a loaf of bread was the only cooking this book could have inspired me to do. Wynter has her "Chef", the starter of her French baking days. I have my newly formed Ms. Tippity, the sourdough starter I baked my first loaf with. The night before, I took the starter out of the fridge and measured out 2 tbsp. To this I added 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, then left it overnight. Next morning, I added another 1/2 cup of warm water and enough plain flour to knead it into a smooth dough. Once I'd added all the flour and halfway through my kneading, I also added 1/2 tsp salt.

Formed it into a ball and left it in a greased bowl for 3 hours to double. Punched it down gently, then shaped it into a round loaf. Left it on a baking sheet lined with parchment to double again, another two hours. Heated the oven to 190C, then slashed the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and baked until golden. Because I used a lot of starter, the bread was less sour than my previous rolls. But off it came with a crackling crust and a soft crumb, the perfect bread.

Janaki, our newest member, takes the "halve the yeast" message from the book and makes a whole wheat bread.

Aqua tries "halve the yeast" too for her white bread.

Sweatha makes Swirled Nutella Scones.

Sheba, another new member of the book club, bakes Patty's Cake.

And we have another new member still. Bhagyashri, our third new entrant this month, makes cherry scones.

Also hop over to Ann's to read her review.

Next month, we are reading Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair. Please leave a comment here if you would like to join us.

7 comments:

Bharti said...

Ah....fresh bread...I can almost smell it here.

Curry Leaf said...

Love the book and the bread Simran.I want to try the sourdough,but not yet confident.Love your review -the book has strong characters.
Got the book atlast and can't put it down.I am still reading it,but since I came across scones in the book,I have made nutella scones.I will be posting tday and will also be baking Misha's pumkin and millet muffins today.

notyet100 said...

yummy this looks

s said...

liked the book too..have just posted my review...

Jaya Wagle said...

That bread looks sooo... good. You said it Simran -- crackling crust and a soft crumb does make a bread perfect.
I am going to sit the review out this time but will definitely get hold of the book and read.

Spice said...

love that bread there...... hopefully one day i'll also dare to make my own sourdough starter...

Ann said...

That loaf looks PERFECT. You are quite the boulanger yourself, ma'am!