Like everyone else with an Instagram account, The Happy Foodie team baked its way through successive national lockdowns, seeking comfort in the familiarity of a homemade loaf (be it banana or sourdough). But as life edges closer to some kind of normality, the smell of freshly-baked bread filling the house has become little more than one of the few happier memories of the strangest of times.
Packed with over thirty different recipes for bread of all shapes, sizes and difficulty levels, Bread Every Day, the new cookbook from professional chef turned inspiring baker, Jack Sturgess, is just the cookbook we needed to remind us that bread-baking isn’t just for pandemics. Alongside illustrated step-by-step recipes, notes on kit, and no-nonsense instructions for turning out everything from buns to brioche, focaccia to tacos, this essential guide to all things bread also features over fifty ideas for bread-based recipes. You can make the most of your freshly-baked goods in sandwiches, salads, pasta, nachos and more (or skip straight to these dishes and use shop-bought bread if you’re not quite ready to start baking from scratch yet).
So, with the perfect book to help us reconnect to the joys of bread-making, The Happy Foodie team has been trying out recipes from Bread Every Day. Here’s how we got on.
Who: Alice King, Publicity Manager, Ebury Publishing
What I made: Chocolate Orange Knot Buns
What I thought: I have never attempted anything like these before but with Jack’s incredibly clear instructions they turned out so much better than I was hoping! The dough and the filling are both really simple to make, and shaping the knots is really fun. The end result was delicious, they pulled apart like a cinnamon bun and the salty pumpkin seeds were such a great topping.
Who: Chadia Aliberti, Communications Assistant, Audience, Brand and Communications
What I made: Green Vegetable Spaghetti with Parmesan
What I thought: I’m Italian, and I know that a lot of people might not believe me, but I genuinely do eat pasta most days and have my entire life. So I’m always on the lookout for new pasta recipes, especially healthier ones that have vegetables in them. The recipe took around 15 minutes max to make, it was super easy. You cook your pasta (with salt first in the boiling water, of course!), then your veggies, and finally, add everything together with parmesan and pasta water – could not have been easier. I made a couple of substitutions: I used vegan parmesan mixed into the pasta and vegetables, which worked a treat (I used my last bit, and didn’t have any to add on top – I wish I did!). I also used asparagus, since it’s recently come into season. The end result was great: incredibly tasty and light, perfect for spring.
Who: Jess Colman, Director of Communications, Audiences, Brand and Communications
What I made: Multi-seed Bloomer
What I thought: I am one of those people who started baking loaves over lockdown, and would put myself in the ‘enthusiastic novice’ category when it comes to all things bread. So far, though, I’ve mostly stuck to white flour, so I was keen to try out something different. I also liked the idea of using seeds and decided to go with poppy and sesame. The recipe instructions were easy to follow throughout; I might have fudged it a little bit with the shaping, but still managed to end up with something resembling a pretty decent (and very tasty) loaf of bread. If you can, I’d recommend buying a dough scraper (they’re not expensive), as it helps minimise the mess when first mixing the ingredients, which gets pretty sticky. My loaf was a little on the flat side so I’d love to try this again to really perfect it. In my opinion, the final product was best eaten dunked in soup or as hot-buttered toast, slathered in either marmite or marmalade.
Who: Lara McLeod, Brand Executive, Ebury Publishing
What I made: Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia
What I thought: This was such a tasty and really quite simple recipe for such a great result. While it does need you to be around for different stages of folding, the actual hands on requirement really wasn’t much for such a delicious reward at the end. The focaccia is soft and light, and Jack’s instructions were easy to follow, ensuring you end up with great results. It did disappear very quickly in my house, and I have had several requests from friends for me to make them their own one. This will definitely be a staple bake for me going forward!
Who: Rhiannon Griffiths, Online Editor, Dead Good
What I made: Breakfast Tacos
What I thought: As a complete baking novice, I was slightly apprehensive about making my own bread for the first time, but I love how Bread Every Day gives you suggestions for how to use each bake in a different way, and Jack’s Breakfast Tacos proved the perfect motivation. Despite my lack of baking instinct, the easy-to-follow instructions left me with what I’d definitely call legitimate tacos – even if mine were a little on the thick side. The dish was so delicious and easy to make dairy-free for any lactose intolerants like me, so I’d definitely make it again. The best part? I now have a freezer full of homemade tacos at the ready!
Who: Mia Oakley – Campaigns Officer, Ebury Publishing
What I made: Beef Shin Chilli Nachos
What I thought: Making these nachos was the perfect way to spend a couple of Sundays. I made the tacos the Sunday before and used Jack’s very handy tip for freezing them between sheets of baking paper. As someone who loves any form of thin bread such as chapatis, I can see this becoming a freezer staple for me. I then made the Beef Shin Chilli Nachos from the book the following Sunday and they were genuinely the best loaded nachos I have ever had. Cooking the chilli for numerous hours meant the beef was so tender, rich and packed with flavour. I decided to add a spoon full of honey to the chilli for sweetness. The salsa added a nice tang and paired wonderfully with the sour cream. Beyond being utterly delicious these nachos are so colourful and brought joy to my bank holiday weekend.
Who: Emily Brickell, Editor, Ebury Publishing
What I made: Malted Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pecans
What I thought: I was slightly daunted by the prospect of making my own enriched dough as I have never been much of a baker. However, the temptation of fresh cinnamon buns bolstered me… It was worth it! Jack breaks it down, step by step, to make it easy even for those who are slightly fearful of baking. And so delicious, my friends thought they were better than the ones they’d had in cafés.
Who: Ru Merritt, Senior Commissioning Editor, Ebury Press
What I made: Pancetta, Garlic and Herb Pavé
What I thought: Totally delicious. As someone who doesn’t have a natural skill when it comes to bread baking, I was unsure my loaves would even be edible let alone decent, but I couldn’t believe how well they came out. The recipe was so easy to follow and the pavés were light, fluffy and packed with flavour. I’ll definitely be this recipe making again!
Who: Abby Watson, Senior Campaigns Manager, Ebury Publishing
What I made: Cheddar Cheese Bread, Pistachio Pesto Dip and Whipped Feta Cheese With Lemon
What I thought: I’ve never made a loaf before so was slightly apprehensive but the clear instructions and accompanying pictures of the folding and kneading processes made me feel really at ease before putting the bread into the oven. Jack offers two ways to incorporate the cheese in the recipe and I went with the “subtle cheese layer” vs the “molten cheese pockets” so the bread was laced with strong cheddar. The bread smelled incredible straight from the oven, and, even better, the mix makes two loaves. I made a couple of the dips to accompany the bread – the pistachio pesto dip and the whipped feta. Both can be made in less than five minutes and are ideal for bread dipping. I’ve made them both since to accompany a cheeseboard and expect they’ll be new go-tos for impressive sides when entertaining.