Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Edesia Cookbook Review

Monday, February 25, 2008

As I mentioned, Kim Ode, a writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and avid bread baker, is hosting a series of events about cookbooks. The first panel was about bread cookbooks, and I was asked to talk about, not surprisingly, The Bread Bible. Kim Ode reviewed Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and Will Powers, member of the St. Paul Bread Club, filled in for Solveig Tofte, who had to bow out because she was in training for the Bread Olympics; he discussed Peter Reinhart's new book on whole grain breads.

The event turned out to be great fun, and we had a knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience, including, to my delight, my faithful reader Jini.

All of us brought bread for the audience to sample. I ended up deciding to bake two kinds in case one of them didn't turn out. Of course, I didn't want to embarrass myself by showing up with some ugly, tasteless bread, but I also wanted to do right by Rose's recipes. I had to try my nemesis, the rosemary focaccia, which is no longer my nemesis. Each stage turned out perfectly: the soupy mixture turning into a ball after 20 minutes of beating, and the ball becoming a stretchy mixture resembling smooth, creamy melted mozzarella:

Best of all, the mozzarella/dough miraculously became transformed into a beautiful, brown, chewy rosemary focaccia. I even remembered to dimple deeply before sprinkling on the rosemary and the salt.

Jim thought it didn't have quite enough salt on it to be perfect, but I say Rose herself would have nodded approvingly at this bread. As it turned out, I wouldn't have had to do the backup bread because I was so pleased with the focaccia, but I'd already started a chocolate-almond kugelhopf, which required the purchase of some new almond paste because I misplaced the last tube I bought. (No, I don't know how it's possible to misplace almond paste).
I was feeling pretty invincible after the successful focaccia, and I loved the feel of the kugelhopf dough. It rolled out easily and I was confident of another success when I shaped it and smoothed on the filling without trouble.

Unfortunately, it wasn't quite long enough to let me double the ends over each other, so it ended up looking a little peculiar.

This is not, I'll be the first to admit, a perfect kugelhopf. It's quite imperfect. I decided I would take just one bread after all, and so I cut open the kugelhopf to give Jim and Sarah a piece.

But look how pretty! And so delicious!
As Jim was about to cut himself a second slice, I grabbed the knife away from him, and told him he couldn't have any more. It occurred to me that I could cut slices and arrange them prettily on a platter. No one would have to know that they came from imperfect bread.

I passed around both breads to oohs and aahs. People admired the focaccia, but there's nothing like chocolate, is there? The kugelhopf platter was completely denuded by the time it made the rounds, and poor Jim felt that his lovely little chocolate bread had been wrested away from him to feed a bunch of strangers, and Jini, too, but she was no longer a stranger.
The next Edesia cookbook review will be at the Galleria Barnes & Noble on Monday, March 24. It will be spring by then, and a perfect time to talk about Mediterranean cooking, which will be the topic. I plan to be there--in the audience this time, and, I hope, sampling some Mediterranean recipes and maybe adding to my cookbook collection.


Melinda said...

I sure wish I could be there! I want to try samples of bread too. The focaccia is beaut and the kugelhopf does look delightful cut and arranged on the plate.
Such a lovely picture of you and Jini together.
(Hey, no more braces! Nice teeth, Marie.)
Did the other people bring samples?
I expect there will be a bigger crowd when the word gets out there is food!

Anonymous said...

Both breads look lovely, and so nice to see a picture of you too! Am I right that you are the one on the right? Why I think that, I don't know . Wish I was near enough to visit the next venue, to be sure.Jeannette

breadbasketcase said...

There were many samples--a whole grain bread from Reinhart's book, an olive bread, a boule, and mine. Very carb-heavy, but very good.
I can't believe you noticed my braces were off! Even Jim didn't notice until I told him.

Yes, I am the one on the right. I wish you were near enough too, but that would be quite a trip.

Anonymous said...

How lovely! Wish I could have been there. I've enjoyed your blog so much and would love to meet and talk about baking with you and others. NC is a bit far away... Mediterranean cooking is my specialty - hubby is Greek! Any questions, just let me know.

Doughadear said...

What a wonderful event to a part of! Your focaccia and kugelhopf look wonderful and I'm sure they were a hit.

Kim Ode said...

Thanks again for sharing your experience and your bread with everyone. You spoke with such humor and reasonableness; I know you inspired others, as I saw a couple of Rose's books head toward the cash registers. And Jim, your photos are terrific! I'm feeling all sorts of good karma from Edesia getting off to such a good start. Thanks!

jini said...

this is a great post marie. your breads were indeed beautiful and delicious.....both of them! it was such fun to hear the differing methods of the bakers...and see their well-used cookbooks, some i believe were held together with shipping tape! ;) i have used my new book, and successfully baked some 5 minute artisan bread.....i may get up my courage and use tbb yet!
i am looking forward to the march rendition of edesia....mediterranean snacks are calling.
hey it's nice to be FORMER strangers!

pinknest said...

i want to denude the kugelhopf!! that sounds dirty.

breadbasketcase said...

Yes, here's a question--what's your favorite Mediterranean cookbook? I'll have to let you know what the panelists recommend, and you can see if you agree.

It was a lot of fun. Bakers are lovely people.

My pleasure. I think the cookbook review is an inspired idea. I hope that you're planning one on vegetarian cookbooks. Like a lot of people, I'm doing more vegetarian cooking now, although I'm not a vegetarian. I've got my own favorite vegetarian cookbooks, but I'd love to hear about others.

As a cookbook collector, I'm in awe of people who say they cook only from two favorite (and duct-taped) cookbooks. But I can't believe you haven't tried The Bread Bible yet! Did I know that?

Ha. I think it's hard to say kugelhopf without sounding faintly obscene, and when you use it in the same sentence as "denude,".... I'm going to try to master chocolate babka at some point in my life--I think the kugelhopf may be a good starting point.

Pat said...

Marie- I was at the first book sidcussion and thought it went really well. I am impressed with your breadbaking skills. Based on the number of people there, I think there is a lot of interest. I will be a presenter in April (28th) with my cookbook "Baking Basics and Beyond" and hope I do as well. Pat Sinclair

breadbasketcase said...

I agree that there is a lot of interest, and I hope there will be an overflowing crowd for the April discussion. How impressive that you have your own cookbook--I'll be sure to check it out!

jini said...

hello famous one.....just noticed that rose mentioned your blog in her last post. woohoo!

breadbasketcase said...

Hi Jini,
What an honor! I knew that Rose was tinkering with that bread, and I think her recipe is actually a little easier to follow than the original one. It's such good bread!