I love to bake bread. It is challenging, yet it is one of the most fulfilling and creative endeavors. I like that you can make something out of nothing – from basic flour, water and yeast you can have a huge, crusty, hearty loaf and an irresistible bread aroma around the home a few hours later. My favorite part is when I slather on some fresh butter on newly baked bread fresh out of the oven and it is just heaven.
Back to earth, back to the kitchen. My friends sent me this new cookbook ‘Baking by Hand’ by Andy and Jackie King. What a great baking reference, whether you are a baking newbie or a pro, this book of 240 pages and nearly 100 recipes has helpful tips, information, recipes and wondrous bread and dessert photos. I do admit, that even if I have spent years trying to perfect baking bread, this book seemed intimidating at first. But like a good teacher the cookbook taught me that there was much to learn about baking bread and opened my eyes to new techniques that have been basic ever since.
This is definitely a book for those who love to bake bread. If you’re new to the art, this is a great first teacher. If you’re a pro, then this will reaffirm and be a good reference. I look forward to trying more recipes in the cookbook like : the Croissant Dough, the Oatmeal-Cinnamon Raisin Loaves, Sticky Buns, a Chocolate-Coconut Macadamia Tart and The Classic A & J Apple Tart. Oh there is so much more to make, I will be busy all winter long baking bread with this book!
This book and these baguette loaves I baked took me back to the basics of baking by hand, the way I first learned how many years ago – when I made the Filipino pan de sal and ensaimadas, the Philippine brioche. Baking By Hand shows you how you can do it properly without any modern contraptions, just you, your hands and the flour. Open this cookbook and bake some bread with your spouse, kids or friends. Do it for the holidays or for family get-togethers. Indulge by going back to the basics, baking by hand!
Then go a step further, make these Banh Mi sandwiches, filled with a silky spread of homemade mayonnaise, a bounty of fresh vegetables, sweet flavored Filipino beef tapa and spicy Kimchi for the punch.
- 2 pieces baguette loaves
- 1/2 pound sliced thin for Banh Mi filling (see my blog post for recipe) Filipino beef tapa (cooked)
- 2 cups for homemade mayonnaise canola oil
- 2 4 oz./70 g., must be fresh, for homemade mayonnaise pasteurized egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon for mayonnaise sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon for mayonnaise dry mustard
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon for mayonnaise white wine vinegar
- 4 large leaves blanched for 1 minute fresh bok choy
- 1 large sliced thin tomato
- 1 large seeded, membrane removed, sliced in 2-inch strips red bell pepper
- 1 medium sliced thin red onion
- 1 medium peeled, sliced fresh cucumber
- 1/2 cup or more depending on spicy level desired from Asian markets, bottled Kimchi (Korean spicy cabbage pickles)
- Bake two loaves of baguettes (see blog post of www.karenskitchenstories.com).
- To make the homemade mayonnaise: in a large non reactive bowl, mix together the egg yolk, sea salt, dry mustard, white wine vinegar. Combine these well. Slowly add the canola oil in trickles, while whisking. Keep whisking to allow the emulsification to happen. When the mayonnaise starts to thicken, you can add more canola oil a bit faster. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week till ready to use.
- To prepare vegetable filling: wash and slice vegetables needed; blanch bok choy leaves in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, drain and set aside on flat platter till ready to use.
- To assemble the Banh Mi: slice open the baguettes lengthwise. Spread a thin layer of homemade mayonnaise on the bottom baguette. Fill sandwich in this order: bok choy leaves, beef, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions. Top with kimchi.
- Cook’s comments: this is my version of Banh Mi, using ingredients I had on hand to make it affordable. Feel free to use for filling other traditional Banh Mi ingredients : smoked ham, fresh cilantro, pickled vegetables like daikon radish, carrots, chile peppers.
- Bread recipe notes: the original recipe in the cookbook used whole wheat flour for the baguettes. I used regular bread flour which I already had in my pantry and because my family prefers white bread. You can use whole wheat if you prefer.
- Disclosure: the cookbook was a gift and I was not compensated to review or mention it. My views are my own based on our family preferences. I will gladly recommend this bread baking cookbook to anyone who enjoys the craft. Find this where most books are sold, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and independent book sellers.