Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett

Book Review 2009

You know it was only a matter of time. Only a matter of time, that is, before someone wrote and published an entire book about no-knead bread! Well, this is it: Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads. Yes, there is already at least one other volume on no-knead breads (read our review of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day) but the title of this one really capitalizes on no-knead's wild popularity.

We had to laugh when we received this book from the publisher; no-knead bread has been a craze for so long -- of course it warrants another book! But then we were immediately skeptical: is the craze over? What can a book offer to the huge amount of no-knead resources out there already on the web?

Quite a lot, it turns out. Read on for our impressions.

Title & Publisher: Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads, by Nancy Baggett. Published by Wiley, 2009.

First impressions: Hardback book, slightly smaller and more square than an average cookbook, with a glossy dustjacket over good binding. The book stays open when flat -- even when you're in the first or last few pages. There is a color insert with about 16 photos.

Number of recipes: Around 85, including the glazes and drizzles in the last chapter. The book is organized by bread groupings, starting with Easiest Ever Yeast Breads, then proceeding through American breads, Old-World classics, healthy, whole-grain, and gluten-free breads, and sweet breads. She closes with a few toppings and glazes.

The other stuff: An introductory chapter that explains the basic no-knead method. There's a discussion of the chemistry behind no-knead breads, a guide to ingredients, equipment and troubleshooting, and a closing chapter on converting other breads to the no-knead method.

The angle: Baggett's method is very familiar to any of us who have been baking no-knead breads: a wet dough, and a very long and cool rising period. She uses ice in nearly every recipe to quickly bring the temperature down. She expands on this method in dozens of inventive ways.

Strengths: Dozens of delicious-looking bread recipes, without the hassle and uncertainty of adapting other bread recipes to the no-knead method. Given how easy this sort of method is, these breads are even more attractive than usual. We think you'd probably end up baking a lot of the breads in this book. We just felt, in the end, that no matter how many recipes are out there on the web, it was helpful to have a range of tested breads gathered together in one reliable, compact book.

Recipes for right now: French Walnut Bread, Four-Grain Honey Bread, Brown and Wild Rice Crunch Bread, Gluten-Free Light Sandwich Bread, and Yeasted Banana Bundt-Style Coffee Ring.

Recommended? Yes, if you are a baker or would like to bake more frequently.

Why? The recipes are appealing and the no-knead factor makes them very accessible.

Buy the book: Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads, $16 at Amazon

More No-Knead Bread from The Kitchn:
No-Knead Bread in a Hurry
Bittman's No-Knead Bread Phenomenon
Recipe: No-Knead Fennel & Anchovy Pizza
Recipe: No-Knead Challah

2009 Book Reviews (So Far)
Fresh Food From Small Places, by R. J. Ruppenthal
Picture Yourself Cooking with Your Kids, by Beth Sheresh
Eat Feed Autumn Winter, by Anne Bramley
The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet, by Paulette Mitchell
Heirloom Beans, by Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo

(Image: Alexandra Grablewski)

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Baking, Books & Media, Bread

Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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