i buy a lot of my UK-published books in the philippines because it's more economical for me than to order them online. i bought three cookbooks this time around: gorgeous cakes by annie bell, roast chicken and other stories by simon hopkinson with lindsey bareham, and the book that is currently holding my fascination, dough, by richard bertinet.
i used to bake bread on a regular basis, and became fairly adept at it. i had experimented for months, with different kneading and proving techniques, various equipment and ingredients before coming to the conclusion that the simplest possible recipes and techniques were often the best. what i like about bertinet's book is that there are five very simple doughs from which his recipes evolve, and he has a simple, yet effective method for working the dough that uses your fingertips, not the heel of your palms, that takes a fraction of the normal kneading time and seemingly incorporates more air for a lighter, bouncier product.
i haven't baked bread regularly for several years, so i have lost the knack for it, and felt it was best to start at the very beginning. i did as the book suggested and tried the first recipe, for fougasse, which turned out well taste and texture-wise but only looked okay (the problem was i lost track of time and have no idea how long it rested). i know i can do much, much better. i was, however, quite impatient to try making a puff ball, which is one of the recipes that sold me on the book.
the puff ball uses the same dough as the fougasse, but it is rolled out as thin as possible, and then baked on the highest heat, where it bloats and crisps into a hollow zeppelin of the thinnest crust and not much else. bertinet includes a cute little trick of how to create a small hole on the bottom of one, in which salad greens can be stuffed; served right side up on a plate, with instructions to break through the center at will, it becomes a little entertainment along with a starter salad with built-in bowl and crouton.
i'm still stuck in the first chapter, where there doesn't seem to be a recipe i don't want to try; i'm looking forward to the sweet dough chapter where i espied doughnuts and a chocolate bun that screams to be made. my particular copy of "dough" also includes a short, but very helpful dvd that illustrates bertinet's dough technique, so perhaps i should do a second viewing; hopefully the next fougasse will be up to snuff.