Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World

Title:  The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World
Author:  Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, Julia Turshen
Publication Information:  Clarkson Potter. 2015. 304 pages.
ISBN:  0804186170 / 978-0804186179

Book Source:  I received this book through the Blogging for Books program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "At five o'clock every morning, while most people in New York City are still dreaming, industrial mixers are spinning inside Hot Bread Kitchen in East Harlem."

Favorite Quote:  "To riff on a classic proverb, we teach women to fish. But we also show them how to fillet their catch, batter and fry it, and then sell their fish with an appropriate markup."

The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, as the title implies, is a book about bread making - recipes, tools, and techniques. The recipes in this book, though, go well beyond bread; the book includes many recipes for the dishes ranging from curries to salads that we make and serve with bread. This book goes further beyond just a cookbook also. It is a business book, including tips and lessons learned from starting and running this enterprise. Going even further, this book is a story of the bakers of the Hot Bread Kitchen.

Located in East Harlem, the Hot Bread Kitchen looks like many other bakeries around the city. Within, however, also thrives a "social enterprise that provides a life-changing education and opens doors for low-income minority women. The social part of the equation means that bakery trainees learn the skills they need to get management-track positions in the food industry or to start their own food businesses. The enterprise part means that we use the money earned from each loaf of bread to pay for training. Our business pays for our mission."

The book itself is divided into sections - unleavened flatbreads; leavened flatbreads; tortillas and more; lean breads and rolls; enriched breads, rolls, and bund; filled doughs; quick and holiday breads; and what to do with leftover bread. Most recipes are accompanied with full page, full color photographs along with photographs of the bakers. Each recipe is comprised of four parts - the yield, the ingredient list, the step by step instructions, and a brief story or description to describe the origin of the recipe. Interspersed with

The diversity of the bakers leads to the diversity of the recipes found in this book. The first section alone has recipes from Moroccan, Bangladeshi, Indian, Polish, Jewish, and Armenian traditions.

Since the recipes in this book originate with the bakers' traditional home recipes, most of them seem very accessible for a home cook with recognizable and easily available ingredients. The recipes themselves seems "homey" rather than "chef-fy," but as someone who learned how to cook from my mother and grandmother, I love that. The recipes I have learned from experience are the ones I return to time and again, and that is what I feel this book brings - the warmth and comfort of home.

Honoring the diverse backgrounds of the bakers, many recipes include notes on variations to make it appropriate to particular people - for example, explaining matzo recipe and what makes it Kosher or not Kosher for Passover and a non-alcoholic version of a bread suitable for Muslim bakers. This respect for tradition and diversity permeates the entire book.

Yes, in this day and age of recipes everywhere, these recipes can probably be found in other places as can most recipes in most cookbooks. What makes this cookbook special is the stories it tells behind the recipes and the mission it serves. I was not familiar with the Hot Bread Kitchen prior to receiving this book, but I am so glad I am now. For its mission alone, this book is worth purchasing and supporting. The delicious recipes are an added bonus.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment