Emmanuel Hadjiandreou is a master baker who teaches at The School of Artisan Food in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire, one of the most prestigious places in Britain to study for a Diploma, or a short course, in baking, cheese making, butchery, pickling and brewing. He is originally from South Africa, where he garnered his eclectic knowledge of breads from many different nationalities and across history. Amongst several award winning places, he has worked for The Savoy, Daylesford Organic and Judges Bakery.
His new book “How to make bread”, published by Ryland Peters & Small (RPS) has been very eagerly anticipated by both professional and amateur bakers alike. And like the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.
Anything and everything that comes from the RPS stable can always be guaranteed to be beautiful, tactile, extremely professional and finished to a very high quality. The didactic mission of this work cannot be overstated: this books sets out to teach everyone, right from the most inexperienced beginners, how to make basic yeasted breads, wheat free breads, sourdoughs, pastries and sweet treats in a very simple, clear and intelligent way.
The design, photographic art direction and prop styling have all been done by Steve Painter, the talent behind The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, and the end result is nothing short of breathtaking. From above, from the side, from each corner, the camera shots are clearly defined so as to show the reader each process in an ergonomically efficient way. The styling is very rustic, organic and homely and you will covet every single accessory used: from old linen tablecloths to crystal wine decanters, wooden chopping boards, bone-handled knives, farm fresh produce and vintage crockery.
The journey begins with a description of all the ingredients and equipment you will need to start making your own bread. Do not be overwhelmed: you can extract what you need from the advice in bite sized chunks, and as you progress you can take more. Pages 14-15 are very useful indeed, with “Guidelines and Tips” ranging from getting started, making and kneading the dough, shaping, proofing, slashing and baking. There is plenty of hand holding, reassurance and comforting: Emmanuel is a teacher, first and foremost, and he reaches out to all abilities.
Step by step, piece by piece, you will come to understand how dough works, what happens during each process, how best to treat it and how to achieve success without stress. Within the privacy of your warm kitchen, it’s even better than a bakery course in many ways.
You can learn the recipes from simple white loaves, to rolls, soda breads, pizza, ciabatta, focaccia, beer breads, baguettes, bagels, flatbreads, rye breads, spelt bread, sourdoughs, vegetable and herb flavoured breads, croissants, pains au chocolat and aux raisins, brioches and buns.
Each recipe is accompanied by small photographs of each process and a larger photograph of the finished product. The ultimate treat for those that reach pages 164-171 are the Christmas Marzipan Stollen and the Poppy Seed Stollen, and they are not as difficult as you might think.
The sheer amount of hours and work it must have taken to produce this book are commendable: at a time when the publishing industry is under relentless pressure to cut down on costs, fight for profit margins and, sadly, cut corners on production, it is joy and an honour to own such a well thought out, artistic and beautiful book. If you know someone in your life who is keen to start baking then this is the gift to put on the Christmas or birthday present list. That's if you can bear to give it away.
Ryland Peters & Small’s website: www.rylandpeters.com
Follow the team on Twitter: @RylandPeters
The School of Artisan Food: www.schoolofartisanfood.org
Follow the School of Artisan Food team on Twitter: @artisanschool