“The Hot Bread Kitchen” by Waldman Rodriguez is an excellent reference for making both common and obscure breads from around the world. The author takes you through step by step instructions for making commonly loved but not commonly home made breads such as: Matzo, Pita, Naan, Focaccia, Tortillas, Rustic Batard, Ciabatta, New York Rye, Multigrain, Challah, Parker House Rolls and Hot Dog Buns.
You are also introduced to less commonly made breads you may not have been exposed to if you’re not in a city or ethnic neighborhood, such as: M’Smen, Chapatis, Partha, Eier Kichel, Lavash, Injera, Nan-E Barbari (Cover Image), Nan-E Qandi, Gorditas, Pan Bagnat, Onion Bialys, and Kreplach.
The author also provides detailed instructions on making things 100% from scratch, such as making your own Masa flour from Nixtamal for making tortillas. Things less commonly thought of as bread are also included, such as hand pies, dumplings and empanadas.
The book is based around a NYC bakery that trains and employs mostly immigrant families, so there are a lot of heartfelt stories about life transformations around bread and learning to bake. Many of the more exotic recipes originated with the immigrant workes, and were taught to the head bakers by their apprentices. When that’s the case, they do a good job of describing the back story and origin of the recipe, making you feel like you’re in some babushka’s kitchen as you wait for your loaf to come out of the oven.
While on a whole the descriptions and instructions are sufficient for making most of the breads in the books, some of the more complicated and process based breads are not described well or are hard to interpret, leaving me looking for a second reference after seeing sexy photos of breads I’d never heard of but not being able to reproduce them from the instructions provided. There are a lot of great pictures of finished breads, but there are very few pictures of the process of folding and assembling breads that have a complicated and process based preparation (ie. M’Smen).
Overall it’s a great book that introduces you to exotic bread baking in an accessible and easy to read manner, and even where it the instructions lack slightly, it still introduced me to breads I’d never tasted or experienced.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.