Thursday, September 19, 2019

Modern Sourdough: Sweet and Savoury Recipes from Margot Bakery

Modern Sourdough: Sweet and Savoury Recipes from Margot Bakery is a tutorial cookbook by professional baker Michelle Eshkeri. Despite the author being a professional (albeit self-taught) baker, this is a layman accessible real cookbook full of satisfying sourdough breads, both savory and sweet. The ingredients are easily sourced.

Released 10th Sept 2019 by Quarto on their White Lion imprint, it's 224 pages and available in hardcover format. My criteria when reviewing (most) cookery books is fairly simple: is it neatly and logically presented, does it contain usable recipes (for the book's intended audience), are the ingredients reasonably easily sourced, does it contain wildly expensive specialist equipment which I can't borrow, and are the recipes appealingly photographed? This book honestly ticks all the boxes for me.

The book starts with a short and interesting artist's statement including a little bit of what the author brings to the conversation in terms of gender, background, ethnicity, culture, and philosophy. The sidebar section includes numerous clear photographic still life action snapshots of the bakery and bakers.  The author talks briefly about leavening sweet breads and vienoisserie with sourdough alone and that it's a worthwhile process, despite being more time and logistics intensive.  Frankly, before reading this book, I didn't even know it was possible to leaven sweet breads with sourdough.

The recipe chapter begins with a solid introductory tutorial on how to make a sourdough starter.  Everything is clearly and simply explained including time estimates for a finished culture from scratch. This section also includes very general information about loaf types and how to shape different traditional loaves.

The recipes themselves are varied and include many standard types: focaccia, light rye, challah, brioche, flatbreads, bagels, and many many more. The only small quibble I found was that there is not a comprehensive table of contents in the eARC I recieved, and that the recipes aren't arranged to be found quickly. There are chapters covering basic bread, pastry, sweet and savoury bakes, specialities of Margot bakery, and jams and spreads to accompany the breads. There is a comprehensive index included, but this remains a book to browse through to find recipes to try (and I think that was a conscious editorial/authorial decision).

There is also a pictorial tutorial which is frankly the best I've found for braiding a traditional challah. Clear photos and simple to follow. More generally speaking, the photography throughout is delightful and beautifully presented. Each recipe is photographed in colour and reading through the recipes themselves made me hungry and left my fingers itching to recreate them in my own kitchen.

The author has a wonderful sense of humor, wit, and honest love for her craft and it shines through clearly in the text.

Wonderful book and the ideal book for sourdough enthusiasts. Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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