Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Breaking Bread: A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes by Martin Philip

"And the world cannot be
discovered by a journey of
miles, no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual 
journey, a journey of one
inch, very arduous and
humbling and joyful, by
which we arrive at the 
ground at our own feet, and
learn to be at home."
----Wendell Berry

Martin Philip worked in finance in New York City, but he gave all of that up to become a professional baker in rural Vermont. Breaking Bread is Philip's memoir of his journey into bread-baking, told in seventy-five recipes.

Look at that kvassmiche Martin Philip is holding on the cover of his book. Isn't that beautiful? Open the book and you will find recipes for other beautiful wonders like Citrus Vollkornbrot and Powerbrot and Pain de Mie and Sourdough Miche.

The recipes for these breads provide directions for each day's work on the bread. All of these take at least two days to make. Philip gives formulas for weighing the ingredients and measuring the temperature of the ingredients.

These seemed a bit daunting.

Kvassmiche is what I hoped to make. And I still hope to make it one day. Just not yet.  

Instead, I decided to try some of Martin Philip's simpler recipes, those at the beginning of his journey. Cornmeal Drop Biscuits. Mama's Bread. Corn Grit Hoecakes. And this one, at the very start of the book, for Butter Biscuits.

Yield: Ten to twelve 2 1/2 inch biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons unsalted cold butter
1 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk

Position an oven rack on a rung in the top third of the oven. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 13 x 18-inch sheet pan, or line it with parchment paper.

Cut the butter into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Chill until use.

Weigh and chill the dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Add the cold butter and toss to coat with the dry ingredients. Then press the butter slices between your thumb and forefinger into small flat pieces or "leaves."

Add the buttermilk all at once and mix gently until the mixture is just combined. The dough should be firm and bare cohesive (some dry bits are okay).

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. The dry bits will incorporate in the next steps.

Fold the dough in thirds as you would a letter and gently roll or pat it into a rectangle. Repeat this fold-and-roll process once more if the dough isn't cohesive.

Lightly flour the top of the dough and cut the dough into circles with a sharp 2-inch biscuit cutter.

Place the biscuits on the prepared sheet pan.

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating after 14 minutes, until the biscuits are golden.

You will never taste a better biscuit. Flaky. Buttery. Delicious.

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  1. I've never had much luck with bread or biscuits so I'm intimidated by both. Your biscuits look delicious!

  2. I'm giving this to hubby. He loves to bake. These sound and look so good.

    Thank you for joining the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

    Have a fabulous Wordless Wednesday. ♥

  3. Your cookis look delicious! yammy 😋
    happy wordless wednesday 😊

  4. Tend to call them scones. I made Onion Rolls over the weekend but had a mishap and they were a little overcooked, oven was too high and I did not watch the time. Get them right next time

  5. i used to love to bake. now, mr wonderful is the one in the kitchen
    sherry @ fundinmental

  6. Your cookis look delicious!
    greetings Elke

  7. The only biscuits I've made homemade were the bisquick ones. This sounds really good.

  8. Thank you a lot for the recipe! I am still looking a way for doing biscuits. I could try your way!
    And I like the Wendell Berry's quote! Learning to be at home is so important!
    Happy WW!

  9. The book sounds good, homemade bread is so delicious! Thanks for the recipes, I'll have a taste!
    Happy ww :)

  10. Gorgeous biscuits. Thank you for the recipe .. They are very good with butter and tea, but also with milk I like .. ☺️. Happy WW. !!!

  11. Sounds like a good book and the biscuits look fabulous

  12. I have two recipes I can bake from memory: German pancakes and biscuits. These look delicious indeed.

  13. Thank you for visiting me! The change of giving up a professional career to follow one's passion, I understand very well, since I was close to that mindset, except for the fact that my professional career exploded with the 2008 debacle, so I was left to "do" something else. I loved my job as a psychologist, but my passion as an artist is easier on my nerves (joking).

  14. Your biscuits look so good! I haven't baked in many years.

  15. My dad and I were just talking about baking bread. It seems so daunting!

    1. I think bread bakers want others to think its daunting. It's not.

  16. I'm a great bread baker but I've not had great luck with biscuits for some reason. I'll have to give these a shot.

    1. It seems to help to pop these into the refrigerator for a bit before putting them in the oven.

  17. On a recent visit to South Carolina I tried some really light and delicious biscuits. I’ve always wondered what the fuss was about, but this practically convinced me that they are really special. Yours look great.

    best....... mae at

  18. I'm in a bread rut, and actually like it there, figuring if it ain't broke, why fix it? I make my loaf of sourdough, sprinkle some nigella seeds on top, it turns out wonderful, and all is good. I would like to try those biscuits though and the corn grit Hoecakes!

    1. I have a sourdough cookbook that has been sitting on my shelf, awaiting me, for months.

  19. I hadn't even heard of a lot of those breads. I would have been starting with a simple recipe too!

    1. But, oh my goodness, when you see the photos of these breads you feel like you want to try them, despite their impossibility.

  20. That looks and sounds delicious! Breads in general annoy me so much - they are among the most delicious baked items but are not always the easiest or the fastest to bake. The intricate looking ones are even worse.

    1. People who don't bake always worry that baking requires exact measurement, but I don't do that and I still have lots of success.

    2. People who don't bake always worry that baking requires exact measurement, but I don't do that and I still have lots of success.

  21. The pictures tell me they must have been very delicious! 😋
    Thanks for sharing these yummy pics, Deb.
    Happy #wordlesswednesday and a fabulous week ahead.

  22. Dear Deb,

    Thank you for sharing. Had me yrooooooling all over the keyboard. Lol!

    Good to see you on #WW after a hiatus.
    Keep these lovely posts coming.


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