I’m a huge fan of Singapore’s libraries. They seem to have a dizzying array of cookbooks. I don’t actually have to go to the cookbook section. I just hang about at the new books section and there’s bound to be something to catch my eye.
Given my love of bread and my bread machine, I thought I could venture a bit further and make my own bread by hand.
According to the brief bio in front, Hadjiandreou’s father ran restaurants and he learned his “art” in German style bakeries in South Africa and Namibia. He’s also worked in Greece and Germany. In the U.K., he’s worked for Gordon Ramsay and the Savoy among others.
Looking at the book, I was impressed by the step-by-step photos demonstrating the making of the various types of bread. There is also a large variety and the book is divided into basic bread, wheat free or gluten free breads and pastries & sweet treats. So there are the crowd favourites such as baguettes and croissants to more exotic varieties such as tsoureki, a sweet bread used to break the fast at Eastertime in Greece.
One day I came upon “How to Make Bread” by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. However as I proceeded to read the book, it struck me that it may be pitched a bit higher than a beginner or someone looking for a quick treat. Some of the recipes seemed a tad more troublesome and the ingredients a little bit hard to find. However, since I’d already borrowed it I ventured to try the pizza dough because although my bread machine does make it, the dough comes out stickier than I want and I find it hard to work with.
Well, Hadjiandreou’s pizza dough promised to churn out five bases which I could keep frozen for future use. I followed the instructions to the letter but the dough was too dry and hard to work with. It wouldn’t stick together properly and I had to add more water. It was also very rubbery and hard to roll out as it would spring back. On top of that I had to let the dough rise for 24 hours before I could use it. So if I wanted to eat pizza, I’d have to plan really far ahead.
I put two into the oven to bake and keep but both expanded like puffer fish! I got pita bread instead. I realised I’d forgotten to poke at the dough with a fork. I didn’t know it would make such a big difference. Oh well, I could eat both as bread instead.So for the next three I gave them many jabs with my fork and put my toppings and baked them as instructed.
They turned out fine and my daughter said the base was really delicious. I guess because it was rather dry I could roll it out into a very thin base (after much huffing and puffing), which I prefer.
So thinking I was rather klutzy, I ventured to try the pita bread recipe. I had the same problem, the dough was rather dry and I had to add more water. The recipe also required many steps, knead, rest, knead, rest before I could put the dough into the oven. When I baked them, some puffed up and others didn’t, so the quality was rather uneven. Not to mention they were really hard.
Ok, it may have been me and my poor skills, but if I follow a recipe book I’d like it to be klutz proof. Instead it was rather time consuming and too much effort for a time-strapped mom like me. Making Mercedes class bread probably requires years of skill and I can’t acquire it overnight just by reading a book.