Jim Lahey, the genius baker behind Sullivan Street Bakery who popularized the no-knead artisan bread technique, has a new and eagerly awaited book out, and it’s a great one. The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook (W.W. Norton, 2017; $35) written with Maya Joseph, focuses on the sourdough side of bread (both no-knead and
knead-y). He begins with the fundamentals of making a natural starter, and offers a few ways of doing this. He then moves smartly onto the “biga”, the doughy pre-ferment that is the leavening of many of Lahey’s sourdough breads. The actual bread recipes include artisan standards such as Pane Toscano, Ciabatta, Pane Pugliese, as
well as more intriguing breads such as Lahey’s Hamilton Buns (yes, inspired by the musical), No-Knead, Naturally Leavened Brioche (I must give this a go), and Truccio Saré (a whole wheat sourdough with a blackish crust). And then there are newer versions of Lahey’s pizzas – Pizza Bianca, Capicola, Mele e Finocchio (Apple and
Fennel), and even Carota (Carrot) and Asparagus. A chapter called “Breakfast at the Bakery” features recipes such as Panini d’Uovo (egg sandwiches), Bran and Blackberry Muffins, Cardamom Cinnamon Buns and Bomboloni (Italian doughnuts). There’s even a chapter on slow-roasted savory dishes, such as Pasilla
Agresivo (Chili!), Pasta al Forno, and the exiting sounding Punta di Petto di Tè (Brisket Braised in Black Tea). A chapter on Sandwiches, Salads and Condiments is followed by my favorite, Dolci. This includes a panoply of baked goods, from Flourless Triple Chocolate Cookies to Pinolata (Pine Nut Tart) to Lahey’s coveted recipe for panettone. But of all the wondrous recipes in this book, it was the Budino di Mele e Pane (Apple Bread Pudding) that snared me. Jim Lahey says that it took 20 years to perfect it, and I believe him. It is sublime. Use some crusty, homemade bread that’s past its prime – it will make all the difference. I substituted Honeycrisp apples for the Braeburns and served it slightly warm with sweetened whipped cream. Oh my.