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
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)