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Bread file


Peace and Loaf


As Tom and Henry Herbert launch their first cookbook to accompany their hit Channel 4 TV series, The Fabulous Baker Brothers, ROSA PARK examines the brothers’ appeal and why they might be the greatest thing since sliced bread…


W


hen did bread become so complicated? There are too many bread books laden with jargon foreign to the


novice baker, discussing the differences between a biga and a poolish, when all I really want to know is how to make a simple loaf at home. Enter The Fabulous Baker Brothers.


This new cookbook from Tom and Henry Herbert – the brothers from the Chipping Sodbury-based Hobbs House Bakery and Butchery and the hit Channel 4 TV series after which the book is named – makes bread making accessible and fun. As Henry says, “It’s just mixing stuff!” Tom adds, “We want to take the fear out.” Their recipes, which celebrate bread


and all the tasty things that accompany it, are models of clarity and simplicity and reading them makes me feel at home. The brothers understand simple pleasures (fish finger sarnies, bread sauce with roast chicken, beef stew) and how to give them the modern tweaks that home cooks want, like sourdough pancakes with poached fruit and crème fraiche. “We’ve had a lot of practice – I’ve had 10 years of teaching bread-making courses and Henry is like a recipe machine. We are translating that to what people want at home,” Tom explains. As I make my way through the book, I


realise that it reads less like a cookbook and more like a recipe for a delicious life. From the introduction to the descriptive headnotes, every page in this colourful tome is interlaced with secrets of the naturally fermented kind alongside


46 Clifton Life www.mediaclash.co.uk


family history (their grandfather used to sleep on the overnight dough bin) and personal anecdotes (Henry sometimes uses a chocolate cake to get out of trouble with the missus). I soon discover that a BLT done right is a thing to behold and devour, and a great beef Wellington can be mind blowing – especially with foie gras. I appreciate the blokish element to the book too – there’s a “things men like to make” chapter – as it’s a reflection of who the boys are, and their banter. By the book’s end, I not only want to


eat at Tom and Henry’s dinner table, but I want to be seated next to them as well (apologies to the two Mrs. Herberts). I want to ask them if bagels will make a cameo in their next cookbook, enquire what their father thinks of their TV show, and then, after a couple of drinks, ask why they sign off with ‘Peace & Loaf’. Luckily, I got to meet the brothers


earlier this month, and had the opportunity to witness their charm and passion for food in person. Tom tells me that Hobbs House Bakery


is building a cookery school in Chipping Sodbury with hopes of training the next generation of bakers, and Henry shares that his butchery now does nationwide meat box deliveries. What struck me most was the candour


with which Tom replied to the question “What’s it like being on TV?” His answer: “It’s like being a dog with his head out the window. It’s very stimulating. It’s good fun. It’s pretty dangerous. You’re going to get some things in your eyes and swallow some flies. And I’m definitely not driving.” But there’s little doubt as to where the


Henry (left) and Tom Herbert, in front of their Chipping Sodbury butchery and bakery, which are next door to one another


brothers were seated when it comes to their first cookbook. Henry reveals, “It was a lifetime of collecting recipes that came together. Tom and I wrote 37,000 words in two weeks.” In short, the book is a culmination of


five generations’ worth of the Herbert’s bread knowledge through which Tom and Henry expertly guide you. The photos alone are worth the cover


price – wide ranging and beautifully laid out, it makes for wonderful visual grazing. This volume, perfect for bread lovers, contains family recipes that cover a lot of ground, from soda bread and bread sticks to pittas and chapattis. As for my first foray into the world of The Fabulous Baker Brothers, I picked their Easter biscuits as fun alternatives to hot cross buns for this year’s festivities – and they officially taste just as good once Easter is over, To all the novice bakers out there, good luck! The brothers are rooting for you. CL


The Fabulous Baker Brothers, published by Headline, is available at all good bookshops and online, priced at £20


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