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James Morton – Brilliant Bread review

The Great British Bake Off runner-up serves up a fantastic bread book.

James Morton

Anyone who watched the 2012 series of The Great British Bake Off will be familiar with James Morton. The runner-up balances being a full-time medical student at the University of Glasgow with his passion for baking. Since the show he’s popped up on a variety of shows, runs his own baking blog and seen his Twitter follows go through the roof. After making quite the impression on fans of The Great British Bake Off, Morton has recently released his first book entitled Brilliant Bread.

Morton opens his book with the promise that ‘the very first bread you bake will be something to be proud of’ and you start off on your journey of bread baking with hopeful optimism. Bread is often considered to be something that can be tricky to get right and whilst there’s definitely a knack to it, Morton’s fantastic book walks you through everything in impressive detail offering plenty in the way of handy tips. After sharing his story about how he got the baking bug, Morton explains his thoughts on gluten and why it is a wonderful thing (unless of course you have coeliac disease or a wheat allergy then it’s a bad thing!) before getting to the meat (or should that be dough?) of the book.

One of the things we love about this book is the way that it ensures you understand the basics before you dive in. It’s structured a little like you’d expect a book teaching you to play a musical instrument would be. You can’t just dive into and expect to be fantastic and successful straight away. Morton spends time explaining the process of bread-making, the tools/utensils you need and the steps that you need to go through. He himself says it’s not essential reading but we beg to differ. Understanding all of these things before you start will increase your chance of success.

There are 10 chapters packed with recipes which not only gives you a wonderful array of choice but also shows you how versatile bread actually is. When we were growing up we thought Warburtons medium-sliced white loaf was all there was but it’s amazing just how many varieties of breads there are in the world. The first chapter of recipes focuses on Basic Breads and this is a good starting point for those who have never baked bread before. As well as the mouth-watering pictures of bread to accompany the recipes there are lots of photos showing the techniques for shaping dough and to help master the various techniques you will need.

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As you browse through the book you’ll be impressed by the vast amount of choice Morton presents you with. From the simple (wholemeal bread, crusty rolls) through to the more difficult (Pesto Twirl, Challah) there is something from everyone and every level of baking experience. Our favourite chapter is the rather delicious Laminated Doughs which are on the sweeter end of the spectrum with recipes like Pain au Chocolate, Yum Yums and Croissants.

Brilliant Bread is packed full of fantastic recipes and we love Morton’s approach. Everything is concise and clear with plenty of imagery to help you reach your end result. This book is suitable for bakers of all varieties and will challenge even the more experienced bakers. Bread is one of life’s great pleasures and Morton has given us enough recipes to keep us happy for a long time to come. The only problem is we simply don’t know if our waistline can cope!


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