Bread Beckons

Last night’s GBBO4 debut brought back some memories.

The initial exhilaration at meeting Mel and Sue. Memories of the massive marquee and the hundreds of insects that would congregate in the peaks of its rolling ceiling. And memories of the intense nausea brought on by faltering self-control in the face of unlimited cake and its constituent ingredients. I imagined half the chocolate chips involved in this year’s cocoa-showstopper went raw into the mouths of the contestants and crew and comediennes.

After our first two days of filming, we were all averse to sweetness – the mere thought brought on the boak. There was one flicker of optimism and that was that next week was bread week. Savoury week. The week where we were released from our saccharine shackles and could pig out without fear of repercussion.

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And now, today, next week is bread week. I’m worried. My own bread experience on GBBO was less than ideal – I was frustrated with my results in every challenge and selfishly lashed out at Paul and producers for setting such short challenges. Good bread takes time. Great bread takes a lot of time – with spells that can be spent doing other things. By asking us to produce a plaited loaf in 2 hours (TWO HOURS) you’re simply condoning this drivel to the population.

Last year, I pleaded for a challenge for next year’s contestants in which there was an unlimited or protracted time limit – let us see the best of the best of what they can do. Today, I can see why they won’t do this (it’s TV, after all) but I still live in hope. I want to see some acknowledgement of this glorious school of baking that often seems as diverse as all others combined; I want to see sourdoughs and wholegrains and not just underproved and underbaked white breads with each contestant’s own desperate ‘twist’. I’m guilty of using the beyond-clichéd ‘Ispahan’ combination (rose, lychee, raspberry) but last night we saw it too many times. Maybe when bake-off becomes tired and the format needs rejigging, maybe we’ll see true innovation. But the problem is that for the moment, it’s just too darn good to change.

[PLUG ALERT]

On Tuesday next week, there will be GBBO’s bread episode. I fully expect it to reduce breadbaking to a circus and will not in any way shine light on the remarkable abilities of 12 beautifully talented individuals left.

But if you want a proper introduction to bread, wait until Thursday. To see just how hard bakers can make loaves look (and how easy it really is), to see how you can bend baking amazing breads around the busiest of lives and to be taken through every step in as much or as little detail as you and still always make something to be proud of, wait until Thursday.

On Thursday, my first book is out. It’s called “Brilliant Bread”. Notice: Mr Hollywood’s book is merely “Bread”.

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And I’m proud of those 60,000 words. My aim was not just to take bread baking to a new and younger audience, it was to try and produce the best beginner bread book on the market. I think we’ve done that.

Inside, you’ll find a full set of step by steps for every process I felt couldn’t be accurately portrayed in words. And the step-by-step theme continues: you’ll find a range of breads for a range of circumstances and abilities. Begin as a book is meant to: at the beginning. Read my spiel about the ingredients and the processes and take it one step at a time. I promise that do it this way, listening to what I have to say and baking just a bread or two from each chapter, you’ll soon be baking loaves as good as the best Artisan Bakeries in the world. Truly: world-class bread is achievable by the even the indifferent amateur. I love that about bread.

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And people say to me: “YOU can bake great bread in 5 minutes, maybe. But me? Naw.” Please trust me: anyone can. Just read the book and don’t try a sourdough or a panettone as your first go. You’ll be grand. Moreover, you’ll save the full cost of the book after just the first two times you leave a bottle of wine at home bring fresh focaccia or magnificent miche round as a dinner party gift instead.

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Order here and it will be with you on Thursday: AMAZON

8 thoughts on “Bread Beckons

  1. LOL James you are clearly not afraid to say what you think and I like that. Have you spoken to Paul about your book? I am not very good at making bread and I am trying to restrain myself from buying any more cookery books but for this I may have to make an exception 🙂

  2. Bought your book last week, made first loaf this weekend & it was awesome. Will continue to make this twice a week to get the feel for it & then will progress to some of your other recipes.

    Great book & pitched at just the right level – a good mixture of instructions & pictures.

    Thanks James for all the time & effort you must have put in to getting this book – just right.

  3. Referring to this wittily-written book for real people has resulted in the most spectacular home baked bread I have ever encountered! Whether it’s the cast-iron, the longer proving in the fridge or what, I have no idea but the results are amazing. My 7 year old daughter today said that I should stop buying bakery products and make them instead! BTW, the scone recipe is well worth a try too. Thanks James, you’re a star.

  4. The book is great. It’s funny and easy to read. It explains everything. Can’t wait till I’ve worked my way up to panettone .

  5. My wife bought me your book for Christmas and it’s been absolutely fantastic. Previously I’d tried making some of Paul Hollywood’s recipes, but had mixed results. Yours have been much easier and much more successful. So far I’ve made the simple white, brown, foccacia, fougasse, scones, rye&raisin and honey and walnut, all of which have been really good despite my basic ability.

    Thank you for creating such a reliable and informative book!

  6. Doh! (…or maybe that should be dough!). Just when I promised myself that I had more than enough books on bread, along comes another one! Of course, there are many, many books about baking bread – some good, some poor. However, they often lack the passion and desire to de-mystify the craft and art of baking great bread. Yours looks like one of the exceptions James. I wish you the very best of luck!

    Now, if I could just remember my Amazon password…

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