My copy of “Twenty” by Michael Ruhlman recently arrived via Amazo n and no sooner had I settled in to admire the beautiful photographs, superb writing and sensible techniques, than it became obvious to me that I needed his previous book “Ratio”. Amazon to the rescue once more and I had “Ratio” in my hands two days later.
As someone who owns a plethora of cookbooks, these books were a revelation to me. They didn’t simply provide me with recipes; they gave me the keys to the kingdom…the techniques and ratios that are the foundation of great recipes. These aren’t really cookbooks as much as they are cooking manuals. I must admit, that appeals to the inner geek in me, because I like to know how and why things work.
One of the very first ratios he tackles in “Ratio” is bread dough. I enjoy making bread, although I have only come to this enjoyment through a great deal of trial and error. Many of my early bread making efforts ended up as croutons, bread crumbs or simply in the garbage. I purchased every bread making book I could get my hands on, and eventually learned the proper techniques to end up with pretty good bread.
Here is what Michael has to say about bread dough: Bread = 5 parts flour : 3 parts water (plus yeast & salt). Brilliant! His explanations of why this ratio works andthe mystery of yeast are both interesting and compelling, this reads almost like a novel.
One of the techniques he suggests for making bread is using the Dutch Oven Method, which is something I have never tried but sounded like an excellent experiment. The reason for using the dutch oven is to create enough moisture around the dough in the first half of the baking time to create that crispy crust I am always looking for. The results were fabulous and I expect this may become my “go-to” method for baking bread. I was delighted to see this method expanded upon in “Twenty” with beautiful pictures to graphically illustrate each step.
Rather than post his recipe here, I encourage you to purchase your own copy of “Twenty” as you will find it to be an indispensable part of your cooking essentials. And since I think that his earlier book “Ratio” is just as important, I am giving away a copy. To enter, please leave a comment with your favorite bread making method before Friday, September 30 at 5:00 p.m. A winner will be drawn at random and posted here on Saturday, October 1, 2011.
WINNER UPDATE: The winner is #37 Biz who says: “I love homemade bread – nothing like the smell of it coming out of the oven. I make this bread all the time to rave reviews from my family – so pick me so I can make more bread. Thanks.”
Congratulations Biz! I will contact you for your shipping address.