Dan Leader was at ICE yesterday to demonstrate a variety of bread recipes for ICE students and alumni. Leader, who sits on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts Advisory Council, was named one of Dessert Professional’s Top Ten Bread Bakers in America in 2010. He is the owner and baker of the acclaimed Bread Alone Bakery in New York’s Catskill Mountains. His amazing breads are also available at the Union Square Greenmarket.
In addition to being a accomplished baker, Leader is also the author of Bread Alone, Local Breads and Panini Express. His latest book is Simply Great Breads: Sweet and Savory Yeasted Treats from America’s Premier Artisan Baker. The book is full of easy bread recipes inspired by request for simple, fast recipes from his readers and customers.
For the demo, Leader demonstrated a flatbread, doughnuts and chocolate babka. Leader walked the audience through the three dramatically different breads, but said that baking really just boiled down to keeping things simple and understanding a few basic techniques. One of his keys to success when baking is careful measuring. In his book the recipes includes both weight and volume measurements, but he encourages using the metric system. Leader said he doesn’t understand the America phobia to weight measurements — “I tell my students to take a deep breath and get over it. Within an hour or two they are completely comfortable.” Leader made seemingly complicated breads as easy as measuring ingredients and mixing them together in a bowl — a true master of breads and yeasted doughs.