Apologies to Dan Lepard, that’s an awful pun for a title and I’m not even sure how one properly pronounces his surname, but it is pronounced leopard in our house. Anyway, Dan’s book Short & Sweet has been ruling the baking inspiration here since my birthday last summer, with much loved results. Put it this way, MGG has declared my pizza base made from Dan’s book even better than the one out the bread machine, which is high praise from her!
Christmas brought a potential usurper into the household, in the shape of Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake. And then a dump of snow brought the time to have an excuse to stay home and have a recipe off. I’d already said I was going to try the two most basic white bread recipes in each book side by side, as basically Paul’s seemed like a lot more faffing about.
Now, these are not exactly like for like, but are portrayed as the starting point for breadmaking adventures. Paul’s is a basic white tin bread, and includes 25g butter in the recipe. Other than that, both recipes use the same quantity of flour, so reasonably similar. In order to ensure this was fair, I opened a new packet of flour and yeast so no one could claim fresher ingredients than the other.
To me, Dan’s dough is so easy, comes together really quick, and the very quick kneading means you have a recognisable dough pretty quickly. Paul’s dough doesn’t come together quite as neatly, and there is all that kneading! Dan’s consists of three ten second kneads, Paul’s has you kneading for 5 to 10 minutes. Possibly some days that is good therapy for those feeling stressed. They looked not a jot different though:
Both come to end of resting at pretty much the same sort of time, and then got shaped and rested.
For Dan’s recipe this was a more freeform oval on a baking tray and then covered with a tea towel, Paul’s went into a tin and then into a plastic bag.
Plenty of rise from both, and both went into a hot oven with extra steam provided by a roasting tin of boiling water in the base. With Dan’s I used his tip for fan ovens about turning them off as the loaf went in then switching it back on after 10 minutes. Paul didn’t include this tip, so I didn’t do it.
Both cooked beautifully, and turned out looking amazing (the smell by this point was something else). I put a teatowel over both while they cooled, to keep the crust softer. We resisted cutting them until they were cool, but then tucked in.
I would say that Dan’s produces a more rustic loaf, almost French in style with a much more open texture. On it’s own this would be fabulous with cheese or cold meats and a great chutney.
Paul’s is a much softer crumb (which is probably the butter) and cooked in the tin makes a perfect traditional sandwich bread. We slathered both in butter and blackcurrant jam, and no one could really choose a favourite. We toasted them, and still pretty much equal pegging.
I have to say if I had to choose, then I would imagine I would make Dan’s again, if only because my original prejudice was right, there was a little more faffing to Paul’s in the form of the longer kneading. As it didn’t produce a result that was substantially more loved then I would probably skip it. That said, it did make fabulous toast. However, if I had made Dan’s farmhouse tin loaf then that would have taken a lot longer, and we’d have devoured Paul’s loaf before this was even out the oven. But I will give it a go.
So, my only conclusion is that they were both better for being made at home, and that both books have earnt their keep on my shelves. Next up I might do side by side brioche testing. You can never have too much brioche in my book!