Make Ahead Bread by Donna Currie

Make Ahead Bread is a beautifully presented and friendly book about making different types of bread – from basics to more adventurous recipes. Although there are many bread cookbooks on the market, this is presented to help make the entire process more efficient and without having to take up huge chunks of time. As the title suggests, it definitely isn’t about instant gratification when you start – you may not be eating that bread for days. But as you stack recipe after recipe, you’ll be eating tonight’s bread that you made earlier in the week and it’ll taste all the better for not having taken up 4 hours of your day for one loaf. You can spread out the bread making into shorter, more manageable chunks.

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The book breaks down as follows: Introduction; Get ready to bake bread; loaf breads; buns, rolls breadsticks; flatbreads; Pastries; Leftover bread; Butter and spreads; Metric equivalents, Volume to weight conversions, Resources, Index.

This cookbook is ideal for beginner or intermediate cooks. There aren’t in-depth discussions of flour types, artisan grains, or any of the new trends. Rather, we have all the basics one needs to get cooking and them some interesting recipes to try. I liked that there isn’t a lot of flowery purple prose in the introduction (1 page only!) or throughout the book. We don’t have to learn about the author’s kids going to school or see her personal restaurant spammed throughout.  It’s very focused and cleanly written with some humor thrown into the discussions to make it friendlier. It is also beautifully photographed, though most recipes do not have images (considering it is only bread, they aren’t as necessary as other cookbooks).

Recipes start with rustic sourdough bread and include: fresh corn and cheddar loaf, pumpkin loaf, cinnamon swirl bread, sweet potato monkey bread, strawberry jam swirl, yeasted aebleskivers, honey potato buns, crisp sesame breadsticks, sourdough english muffins, almond rolls, semolina focaccia, ciabatta, chicago style pan pizza, turnovers, croissants, french toast, and more.  As can be seen by the variety in the recipes, this covers a wide range of bread meals. In addition to the bread, the book presents spread recipes – apple and sage compound butter, sweet cheese with cinnamon, wine jam, and more.  I found the book well worth it for the spread recipes alone.

The layout of the recipes is nearly perfect. I typically have to complain about cookbooks with directions thrown into chunky paragraphs without steps or ingredients all mashed together.  But Make Ahead Bread book presents everything in a nice order. The recipe title is bold and orange at top.  A short introduction gives more information or tips. A small notation gives serving size. Directions are in numbered paragraph form. At the end of each recipe’s set of directions is how long it can be stored. Ingredients are separated on the right of the page past a double bar break. Each section has its own font style to make it easier to distinguish the sections.  My only complaint would have been to have more color (e.g., ingredients in a green color print). But that’s a minor quibble.

The directions are very easy to follow and the food easy to make. For a keepsake book, I would have preferred more discussions on the type of flours/grains available. But again, this is a streamlined book meant for usage, not necessarily for handing down to daughters. So it is the type of book that will get used because it isn’t overly fussy or with too much extraneous information.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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