Bread making and I are sometimes friends, and sometimes not. I’ve had varying degrees of success with bread making and yeasted doughs and I’ve struggled to find foolproof, easy to remember techniques that always work. Enter Brilliant Bread, by Great British Bake Off finalist James Morton! I realise I am a little late to this party as the book has been out for a while, but everything I have baked from this book has worked like a dream. Everything. So I had to tell you about it. The book is really thorough, talking about the tools you’ll need and the different flours and ingredients in depth. It’s worth reading through this book before you start cooking, the introductions really help you understand the techniques used and what to watch out for if things start to go wrong. Pizza / Garlic Bread Dough I make pizza quite regularly using a Jamie Oliver recipe, which works most of the time but can’t be a bit hit and miss. James’ recipe yields a dough that is a lot livelier and therefore makes a pizza that is soft and airy inside with a nice crisp crust. It proves really quickly, I think due to hte water content, and it’s easier to work with. Combined with the Pizza Pilgrims’ cast iron frying pan method (more on this in another post!) it makes superb pizza. I made a pizza with red sauce, mozzarella and olives, but I also made this garlic bread which really made the base shine. I melted butter and then fried sliced wild garlic leaves in it for a minute (you could also use crushed garlic cloves, fried for 30 seconds) and then spread it over a disc of dough. A little bit of salt and pepper, cooked in the frying pan and finished under the grill. It was a perfect starter. Mozzarella would make it even better. I made a large batch of this dough and froze it in portions in sandwich bags. If you let it defrost slowly in the fridge for 8 hours or so it will be fine to cook straight away. Foccacia Everything I’ve ever heard about making foccacia made me want to run screaming to the nearest bakery to buy some instead. Now I’ve made it from this book I don’t see what all the fuss is about! James’ recipe is simple, no knead and generally no fuss. It is a very very wet dough but because you are only stirring it, instead of trying to work it in to a ball of dough, it is easy to make. It comes together in about 5 minutes, with a long first prove (I did 24 hours in the fridge) and then you tip it out on to a greased baking tray to prove a second time before slathering it in olive oil and baking it. I chose a classic sea salt topping, but rosemary would be great here. We had it with tomato soup one day and the next day I sliced it lengthways and made it into a handsome sandwich filled with salami, strong cheddar and sundried tomatoes. Basic White Loaf This is my nemesis, sometimes a simple white loaf comes out well and sometimes it is a doughy disaster. James’ recipe was a no knead (pretty much) one and was fairly easy to put together. The baking part was a little scary as it does go quite dark, but turning it around in the oven help one edge from getting too dark. A great basic loaf for sandwiches, toast, I made last of it into a comforting bread and butter pudding. I urge you to get this book if you’ve struggled with bread making in the past, or want to expand your repertoire. I’m going to move on to the sweet doughs (brioche, doughnuts, yum yums) next and tackle sourdough again too. I hear James also has another book out soon, which I am eagerly awaiting. Brilliant Bread – buy here.