5 Lessons We Learned From "The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook"
A bakery and cookbook with a purpose.
It’s no secret that New York City is one of the world’s best food cities. The five boroughs are packed with a seemingly endless collection of world class bistros, brasseries, Michelin-starred restaurants, bakeries, and everything in between. Each of these serves one unifying purpose: to feed the masses. One of them—the Hot Bread Kitchen—serves a higher purpose: to offer the less fortunate a chance at a better life.
Founded in 2007, Hot Bread Kitchen offers low-income, minority, and immigrant women professional job training through a six-month long program that trains them to be bakers and then assists them in job placement.
Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen, authored "The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook" in 2015, which features a rich collection of recipes for ethnic breads and other global dishes, as well as baking tips. Here are 5 lessons we learned from this extraordinary cookbook.
Rodriguez says that kneading dough should be “rhythmic and almost meditative.” It also requires plenty of space. A wooden countertop or large cutting board will suffice and should always be lightly dusted with flour. Shape your dough into a ball, press it with the heel of your hand, and then push it forward, then back upon itself. Push firmly on the dough, but not so hard as to break the skin. After approximately 10 minutes, the surface should have a nice gleam.
If you’re kneading dough and your hands become covered with sticky dough, stop. Rub the excess dough off and then simply add more flour to the work surface. It also helps to cover your hands with a bit of flour.
Foremost, don’t store bread in the fridge, as it deprives it of moisture. Crusty bread that will be eaten within 24 hours should be stored in a paper or cloth bag at room temperature; crusty bread that won’t be eaten within 24 hours should be sliced and then frozen in a sealed, air-tight bag. Slices can be reheated in a toaster, skillet, or oven. Soft breads that will be eaten within 3 days should be stored in a breadbox or plastic bag; if they won’t be eaten within 3 days, follow the same procedure for freezing as crusty bread.
Baking is more of science than cooking. Therefore, it’s important to be as accurate as possible when it comes to the ratio of ingredients. When possible, avoid measuring in cups and measure in weight instead. Digital cooking scales are relatively cheap and will help you to bake with a small margin of error.
You can easily transform your home oven into a bread oven by using a pizza stone. They do a good job of retaining heat and help bread bake from the bottom up, which will ensure a beautiful, crisp crust.
Pick up a copy of “The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook” for yourself here.
Published on July 26, 2016