I first discovered that it was possible to bake bread without kneading (along with much of the English speaking world) in 2006 when the Sullivan Street Bakery recipe ran in the New York Times. I embraced the concept wholeheartedly and have been something of a no-knead recipe collector ever since.
Four or five years ago, I stumbled across a recipe for peasant bread on Alexandra Stafford’s blog, Alexandra’s Kitchen, that didn’t need to be kneading, was baked up in some of the Pyrex bowls I already owned, AND could be ready to eat in just a couple of hours. I made a batch immediately and became a fan for life. It became THE thing I made to serve with leftover soup, to bulk out a meal for unexpected guests, or on weekends when we wanted sandwiches but didn’t feel like leaving the apartment.
As a food writer, it’s rare that I return to the same recipe over and over again (because I am always looking for new, interesting things to write about), but this one is simply too good and too reliable to leave behind (though I almost always make it with half whole wheat pastry flour and half white. I am what I am).
So, when Ali announced that she was writing a cookbook that used her peasant bread recipe as a starting place, I was delighted. More ways to make use of this recipe and its tasty results? Yes, please!
Bread Toast Crumbs came out back in April and is everything I hoped it would be. The title also serves as the organizational structure for the book. It opens with the master peasant bread recipe and then offers up more than 35 variations. I’ve only made the original recipe, but have plans to make the hamburger buns this weekend and have half a dozen other versions earmarked.
In the Toast section, you’ll find an array of soups, salads, starters, sandwiches, main dishes, and sweet things. I’ve got my eye on the Summer Vegetable Strata for the near-term and the Cabbage Soup with Gruyere-Rye Toasts for the fall (if you listen to Local Mouthful, you’ll know that my love for cabbage knows no bounds).
The Crumbs section takes the heels of your loaves, grinds them down, and makes delicious use. Someone needs to invite me to a potluck so that I can make the Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese or the Baked Pasta with Mushrooms, Fontina, and Crumbs. Seriously. How good do those dishes sound?
My bottom line on this book is that if you’re looking to up your bread baking game in an approachable way and then find some new ways to make good use of every last morsel of the bread you made, you should check it out.