a new cookbook (or two. or three).

new cook books

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.

pouffy bread 2
puff ball

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.

pouffy bread salad bowl 1

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.


right. it's gone on my amazon wishlist... (just in time for the gift-giving season)

"fougasse" "zeppelin" Waaaaaait a minute is this subliminal propaganda to get me baking?

The puff ball is great and would be an absolute BBQ killer. I'm inspired, cheers to you Santos.

Your puff looks great! Looks like this is due to be released here at the end of November. Can't wait to hear more of your experience with the book!

hi bramble! i changed the link above to the edition with the dvd, as it doesn't seem to be in the standard edition. the dvd helped immensely, although the instructions are clear enough (i need to be hit over the head sometimes).

anthony--when i was working the dough i was thinking that the technique was perfect for me because i have big, grubby man paws for hands. i have no doubt that a daintily handed woman would have no problem with working the dough, but it seems ideal for men. it only took bertinet a few minutes to work the dough properly, i think i got the dough to the right consistency in about 10, which is considerably less than what i'm used to. you would like this book i think.

hi cathy! i just checked the US amazon site, and they already have new and used copies of the book for sale. it says it's the dvd edition, so i'm assuming the dvd is standard for the US. i'm planning on more baking this weekend, so stay tuned!


I was really amaze how you knead and roll your dough to make such a wonderful fougasse and puff ball – is one of a kind. The crispy “I’m sure it is” thin layer of the puff is fabulous, wow I can’t imagine myself rolling dough to make a nice puff balls like you did, it’s very interesting thing to do huh! Well, I am not into baking but this is so much fun than slicing meats, vegetable and spices hmmm. I will give myself a try. Thanks for sharing!


Don't knock big grubby man paws. They're just the thing for ripping the heads off lobsters, changing tyres, and pub brawls.

I think I would like this book.

Don't knock big grubby man paws. They're just the thing for ripping the heads off lobsters, changing tyres, and pub brawls.

I think I would like this book.

hi anon! this is a very good book for casual bakers, i think. not too much work, yet spectacular results.

anth--never been in a pub brawl, but find them useful for a devastating bitch slap.

Holy crap your blog is looking mighty tasty lately!

Darn it, and here I am telling myself that I can't handle adding another obsession to my life (I will not bake bread, I will not bake bread...)

Hi Santos,

That book sounds interesting and the little "poofy" thing there is a great idea. I couldn't imagine a salad fitting inside there. In any case, I'd probably "stuff the puff" with some coffee jelly or top it with some li hing mui sauce just to make it interesting of course. *wink*

aw, c'mon, mcauliflower, just think about it--the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven on a frosty day? warm, crusty rolls with cold, unsalted butter? soft sweet breads scented with vanilla bean straight from your ebay stash or savoury ones with cumin or coriander? would that be nice? :D

hey reid--these are kinda big. you could easily fit a starter salad in there. they are really like a crispy, puffy pita bread, so you wouldn't want to put anything wet or it'll just get soggy and they're not sweet at all. you could dust it will li hing mui powder or serve a li hing mui tinged vinaigrette on the side, though :)

hi santos, puffball looks phenomenal...and that fougasse doesn't just look okay, it looks pretty darn boulangerie-worthy...am severely tempted to go order the book. have simon hopkinson's the prawn cocktail years (love it!) and would love a copy of roast chicken & other stories too...

hi j! oh, you're sweet, but the fougasse needed work. i think you'd love making those puffballs.

i didn't realize simon hopkinson wrote "prawn cocktail years", i really enjoy that book.i haven't really sat down with "roast chicken..." yet, but it looks promising.

I just finished reading Roast chicken and other stories and I loved it. Especially all the parts about offal and stuff, I'm such a peasant!

I have GOT to try that puffball, though bread does intimidate me, I must admit. Practice makes perfect right? Though I second mcauliflower's sentiment about avoiding additonal obsessions, sigh.

hi viv--practice. definitely practice. in the carb's defense, there's nothing like the smell of warm bread wafting through the kitchen. :)

DOH, gotta have a copy of this, even if I don't really bake bread myself :P ... darn there have been one too many inviting cookbooks lately. Your breads look like pro works!

hi chika-san, you would like this book. there is a honey lavender bread and a mint orange one that really sound like something you would make, if you haven't already made them!

If you like the Bertinet book, try geting hold of The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard, it has changed my breadmaking for ever, and if you get the chance to go to one of his classes where he shows you the techniques and debunks the myths, you really should. He's taught in London, Singapore and Australia in the last year, and has a forum on his website at www.danlepard.com - as you might guess, I'm a big fan !

discontinued, thanks for the tip. unless dan lepard comes to guam, there's little chance of me attending a class. i will, however, check out the forum.

I have made it to the end of the book, and Bertinet saved the best for last, Scones. Not normally a favorite of mine but they turned out great. Cranberry scones are becomming a regular for Saterday monings at the house. Ciabatta, pizza and prosciutto parmesan yum........

Hi. Being a Brit I've been lucky enough to attend a few of Richard Bertinet's bread courses. They're great and he's a really likeable guy.

I made the puffballs for a dinner party I gave recently and stuffed them full of salad. It was great fun watching people's faces as they cracked the tops open to reveal the salad. Some of them seriously believed there was some secret technique for baking the bread with the salad inside...