My friend Mick Hartley bakes bread at home, but unlike me he works really hard at it and for several days and nights a week transforms his home into a microbakery, taking orders and selling wonderful loaves to his customers. Somewhere along the way he has found the time to work on his books and I’ve just bought a copy of the first of these, which is called Bethesdabasics. Illustrated beautifully by Wendy Shea and written in a clear and succinct manner this book deals with the business of making sourdough in a way that strips away much of the anxiety and worries that the aspiring sourdough baker is prone to.
Next time I offer to show a friend how to get started with the sourdough, this will be an excellent book to have on hand. I am well aware that there are many fine baking books around and more seem to come out all the time, but there is much to treasure in this book and I like the way Mick’s calm and unfussy approach comes through in the writing. You are in safe hands with the Partisan Baker.
When I first started baking Mick used to post on Dan Lepard’s forum and he gave me loads of advice which has stood me and many others in good stead. Most memorably when I was dithering around and getting obsessed with different types of flour and trying to make baguettes, he told me not to worry and just make the bread with what I had on the shelf. I think the hardest thing when you start out is figuring out what you need to worry about and what you don’t and I reckon if you follow along with Mick’s lessons here you will have just the right amount of information to get on track to great bread and you will get the recipe for some ‘totally awesome’ flatbreads amongst many others.