Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The River Cottage Bread Journey….

So.  I would like to invite you on a journey.  A journey where there will be some success I hope and I’m sure some failure.  A journey where I hope to become a better baker.  To discover new types of bread and baking.  Try new techniques, experience new tastes and smells.  Finally to enjoy great ‘hands-have-made’ bread, as Daniel Stevens would say.  You can either follow me on this trip of discovery, or join in. 

For sometime now, I have been fascinated with the making of bread.  How anyone can take a few humble ingredients and turn it into the staple of mankind the world over, intrigues me.  The whole process of taking a handful of simple ingredients, going through the process of showing them love, care and attention, resulting in such a delicious end result is almost miraculous. 

I had been hunting for a long time for the ideal book relating to making bread.  After a long search I found it.  The River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread by Daniel Stevens.  Exactly what I was looking for.  This is the plan.  To work my way through the book, from start to finish.  Understanding the ingredients, learning the skills and trying every recipe.  It will take as long as it takes, but I’m going for a different recipe each week.  Maybe more, it just depends what I have on.

Bread Making Step by Step - River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread Churros - River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread Taramasalata - River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread

There are many different recipes I can’t wait to try – Ciabatta, Sourdough, Soda Bread, Churros, Lardy Cake, Crumpets and Nettle Pesto to name just a few.  There is one I am dreading – Taramasalata (in the section of using left over bread), as I am just not a fishy person.  Also there is one all mighty challenge.  The building of a clay oven.  The challenge – it won’t go in my garden, so I don’t know yet where I am going to build it.  Any offers?

Sourdough - River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread Building a Clay Oven - River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread A stubby cylinder - River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread

You won’t find me posting every recipe, as that would just be wrong.  If you want the recipes, buy the book.  You will see me post about how each recipe went, and a few adapted recipes.  But do you know what would be great?  If you were to grab yourself a copy of the book too.  That way if you want to follow along, you can.  We can share our experiences together.

So are you on this journey too?

Time to get this show on the road, and take the first step.  The first stop this week…the basic bread recipe.

River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread


  1. Hi James,

    I'm doing exactly the same thing. My book is about 2 weeks old now. Wait until you get to starting your own sordough starter - fascinating!

    One thing i would recommend from my own experience of following the recipes, is to dissolve the yeast in whatever liquid you are using. Often the recipes call for the yeast to be added to the dry ingredients and then mix in your liquid, but this often fails to dissolve and disperse the yeast effectively.

    Love the blog, thanks.


  2. It sounds very inviting - especially when we're talking homemade bread. The unfortunate situation for me is that there is no more room for another cook book in my very vast collection. I'll be sure to follow along though and if you go absolutely nuts over any one particular recipe, maybe you could post it for us.

  3. I'll eat the taramosalata for you! Yum! I've been making quite a lot of bread recently, but I do admire your commitment to working through the book!

  4. I'm coming with you because I bought this book only last Saturday!

  5. Hi Ted - Thank you for your kind comments. I'm very excited on starting this jounrney - it's going to be fun! It would be good to compare notes - see how we both get on.

    Joanne - My bookshelves are getting a bit like that. I now have to sneak cook books into the house.

    Foodycat - Haha - you are welcome to the taramosalata! I find baking bread so relaxing, and rewarding.

    Franziska - Yay!! I have read through this book and love it. Just done the basic bread recipe, and will be posting about it this week! Would be really good to hear how you get on with yours.

  6. I've used this book quite a lot and it's excellent. Good luck with brioche and croissants though - they can be tricky!

  7. I started doing the same thing at the begining of the year on my blog. It got put to one side due to our wedding but I plan to revive it now. Welcome to the journey, it's a great book.

  8. mycustardpie - I am actually looking forward to the croissants, but it does look a little bit complicated and tricky. But thats all part of the fun. :)

    Hi purleyfood - I wanted to start this in January too, but got waylaid! Your right it's a great book!