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I’m in love, y’all. With a cookbook.
For my birthday, my sister gifted me with Bread Toast Crumbs: Recipes for No-Knead Loaves & Meals to Savor Every Slice by Alexandra Stafford. My sister knows me so well. I love baking bread, but I don’t always have the time for it. Mostly the rising and kneading part.
I was very excited to try out Alexandra Stafford’s recipes. By the way, check out her blog, Alexandra Cooks. It’s gorgeous. You’ll leave hungry.
Before I jump into the two recipes I’ve tried, let’s talk about how gorgeous this book is! Hardcover with matte pages. Photos that make you want to lick the pages. The book is also light, a boon to my overstuffed cookbook shelves. If you like your cookbooks beautiful yet functional, Bread Toast Crumbs fits all the requirements.
I love the way the book is set up. It has three main sections:
- The first third of the book covers the bread recipes. The recipes cover a wide range: gluten-free, whole wheat, savory, sweet, rolls, buns, and on and on.
- The “Toast” section covers recipes made with breads you’ve baked from the previous section: soups for bread bowls, mussels with toasted bread, and apple charlotte. I’m already eyeballing her French toast recipe.
- The last section is “Crumbs,” where you can use bread crumbs as breading for zucchini fries, bread soup, and even coffee gelato with cocoa crumbs.
If only my homemade bread could last long enough, I’ll try out recipes from the Toast and Crumb sections. My family has devoured every loaf, leaving only a few slices for me.
I do my best baking at night. Ok, I lie. It’s because I don’t plan out my bread baking well, so I end up staying late to finish the bake. You’ll often see me posting photos on Instagram with the #bakingafterdark hashtag.
Soft sandwich bread
The first recipe I tried was for soft sandwich bread. Mostly because I randomly opened the book to this recipe and I had all the ingredients on hand.I was surprised how easy this recipe is. I’ve tried other sandwich bread recipes and they’re a lot fussier than Alexandra Stafford’s. Mixing and the first rise is done in the same bowl so cleaning up is easy.
After the first rise, I’m instructed to use two forks to deflate and roll the dough into a ball. It feels awkward at first (says the person who uses chopsticks to make omelettes), but I get the hang of it quickly. It lightly mimics kneading. The second rise is only supposed to take 20 minutes or so but long for me. I think it’s because my kitchen was drafty since the air conditioning was blasting.
Verdict: Bread was soft as promised and smelled fabulous! Kids loved it. In fact, the kids ate both loaves in two days. It could have done with a longer rise (totally my fault). I will make it again.
Cheesy Cheddar and Parmigiano Bread
Jaxson asked for cheese bread at the same time he was chewing on the soft white sandwich bread. Luckily, there is a cheese bread recipe in Bread Toast Crumbs.
The recipe instructions are very similar to the sandwich bread recipe. (Alexandra uses her peasant bread recipe as the base for most of the bread recipes in the book). This time I was familiar with the fork method for deflating and rolling the dough into a ball.
Since this wasn’t an impromptu baking after dark session, I remembered to prep my oven so the dough could rise in a warm, non-drafty space. It rose beautifully! Instead of making two small round loaves as instructed, I placed the dough into my 5-quart dutch oven. My loaf came out bigger and flatter than if I’d followed the recipe instructions.
Verdict: My family had eaten half the loaf by the time I got up for my morning cup of coffee. It’s super cheesy and toasted beautifully for me to dip into my fried egg.
If you’ve want to make bread but hate how fussy it can be, you’ll love this cookbook. Bread Toast Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford is the best no knead cookbook ever.
I’ll have to thank my sister again–probably by sending her a loaf of bread.