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Advanced Bread and Pastry


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From his website:

History of SFBI

The San Francisco Baking Institute was founded in 1996 by Michel Suas. A native of France, Michel started baking when he was 14 years old and trained under several renowned chefs before moving to the United States in 1986. Michel has evolved two bakery related businesses: The San Francisco Baking Institute and TMB Baking.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Yes. He has certainly contributed greatly to the artisan baking movement in America. Mr. Rosada helped with the book. It will be good.

Yes, I've met Mr. Rosada whilst doing an internship at a bakery here is DC. He gave me invaluable professional advice.

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  • 3 months later...

Has anyone out there used this book yet? Would it be helpful for avid home bakers or is it only useful to professionals? I haven't been able to find a copy locally to flip through. Thanks!

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  • 4 weeks later...
Has anyone out there used this book yet? Would it be helpful for avid home bakers or is it only useful to professionals? I haven't been able to find a copy locally to flip through. Thanks!

Almost a month later... BUMP!

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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does it have metric measurements & does it also use ratios as a percentage?

thanks in advance.

Edited by adey73 (log)

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Are the recipes in it scalable to quantities suitable for avid home bakers? Does it call for hard to get specialty professional ingredients or equipment? I'm an avid amateur that has baked from a few professional books (Pierre Herme, Frederic Bau), and most of the difficulty has been trying to guesstimate/scale quantities down to single cakes, etc.

Thanks!

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I'm in the "avid home baker" category myself, so you've probably already invested in equipment somewhat. I've only browsed through the pages, but it seems like I can dive right in and try the formulas. There is no chapter on equipment. It assumes that you already have everything that you need.

My favorite part about it is that all formulas have a "test" quantity, which is appropriate for home bakers. You don't need to scale down anything yourself.

The format for formula tables is:

ingredients - baker's % - kg - us decimal - lb/oz - test

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I literally received this book in the mail yesterday. Any specific questions about it? Randomly flipping through the pages, it seems like a steal at the price I paid for it.

Does it cover sourdough bread? If so, how extensively?

I see that Amazon has it for $53. Is this the price you paid?

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It does cover sourdough. It has a very useful table called "starting a starter" that has the most detailed feeding schedule I have ever seen. It may be overwhelming for beginners with all the technical information but it's a good supplement for bread bakers with experience.

As far as sourdough formulas, there's only a few (around 8) but it's a wide variety and covers the basics (sf sourdough, high extraction miche, rye, etc). I was expecting at least one formula for pumpernickel but was disappointed.

I would think of the sourdough section as a nice bonus.

Yes I got it at Amazon for $53.

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... Randomly flipping through the pages, it seems like a steal ...

And having randomly flipped through your blog, Jude, I've ordered it. If you think it looks useful, I'll take your word for it! :smile:

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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  • 2 weeks later...

LONGGGGG overdue...

This book is an absolute must buy for Pastry/baking pros!!! If I had any gripes about it, it would be that I would've liked some more pix. The pix that are there are very good quality, and I knew already that the info would be good; just not THIS GOOD.

Disclosure: Michel Suas has referred me professionally.

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Here's an Amazon link for Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michel Suas.

Edited by John DePaula (log)

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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  • 4 weeks later...
LONGGGGG overdue...

This book is an absolute must buy for Pastry/baking pros!!! If I had any gripes about it, it would be that I would've liked some more pix. The pix that are there are very good quality, and I knew already that the info would be good; just not THIS GOOD.

Disclosure: Michel Suas has referred me professionally.

I got the book and it really is great. I agree that more pics would have been nice, but with all the information given, it is a steal at the Amazon price ($54).

If I would compare it to anything, it would be to Wayne Gisslen's "Professional Baking"...but as the title implies, the Suas book takes it to the next level. It definitely can be used by a beginner and as a text is probably the best book I've seen to date.

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I've had the thing for a couple of weeks.

Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed. Its worth having, but its by no means a "must have".

Why? Well...

Its a rather strange book, quite unlike any other food book I own.

Understand first that this is a textbook. A school book.

As such the tone is unrelentingly didactic.

It tells you how things ARE. With never a hint either there might be different opinions or that what is being given is not always the whole story - or even sometimes the wrong story (is bromated flour actually "banned" in California? (Page 130) Or is a mere warning on the label all that is required in that specific state?)

I found the enthusiasm for industrial additives disappointing. Bromate for example "strengthens gluten and increases the fermentation tolerance of dough... the final product exhibits increased volume with larger cut openings". Bromate being a carcinogen is mentioned, but nowhere is it suggested that its presence is actually undesirable. (The (quote) "several countries" in which it is banned actually include all 27 members of the EU, Canada, and seemingly most of the rest of the world.)

Disappointingly all the formulae for (specifically) ice cream include milk powder and both "stabiliser" and "monostearate". And there's a great emphasis on pasteurisation - which is understandable in the catering environment. There's almost zero overlap with Lebovitz's "Perfect Scoop". They are from different universes.

And then similarly there's the enthusiasm for industrial ingredients. From page 559, just one example

"The development of liquid shortening (partially hydrogenated shortening) with added emulsifiers has benefited cake makers who rely on shortenings for their fat bases. These shortenings disperse quickly... "
If there is anything about the health anti-benefits of trans-fats and their consequent, err, unfashionability, then I haven't spotted it yet. There IS a mention of trans-fat content in the context of labelling declarations. But, er, there's no linkage between techniques and formulae using "partially hydrogenated" ingredients and those trans-fats you must declare in the USA. Different names. No connection made. IMHO poor teaching.

And the coverage is very broad - while the depth of coverage is variable.

As an amateur bread-baker, the most useful part of the book looks likely to be the 700 pages of non-bread stuff. Similarly, for example, I rather suspect that enthusiastic amateur chocolatiers wouldn't learn very much from the chocolate section.

However, within that bread section, there's stuff that I find frankly implausible. Just one example: Pages 68 to 72 are dedicated to "How to calculate mixing time". I simply do not believe the premise for this -- that the only factor to consider is the total number of mixer revolutions. Regardless of mixer design, etc. Rotation speed directly (and very simply) affects mixing time. Seemingly from the examples calculated, a planetary mixer will develop dough almost twice as quickly as a spiral mixer. Can that really be true?

I'm also unhappy (in relation to dough oxidation during mixing) with the concept that it is a "natural property" of salt to "slow down chemical reactions (which is why it is used to increase the shelf life of of foods like cured meats or salted fish)". BUT salting fish or meat does not delay its oxidation - salting acts by inhibiting spoilage microrganisms, a different matter entirely. Hence its dubious that "By incorporating salt into the dough at the beginning of the mixing... the oxidation process will be retarded." Sure, salt toughens gluten, inhibits yeast, etc - but can it really preserve the creamy colouring from the carotenoids against oxidation?

'It is a natural property of salt to slow down chemical reactions' - didactic, and, as a scientist, I'd say inaccurate. (Strangely, there's no mention there about deliberate oxidation by intensive mixing being an essential part of the infamous Chorleywood Bread Process - and where salt addition is not delayed.)

Disappointingly, I've found just two references to Glutathione in the text (and none in the index). Glutathione is an enzyme that occurs naturally, notably in dead yeast, its effect being to make dough less 'strong' but more extensible. One reference in the book is regarding the use of 'deactivated yeast' as a deliberately added dough conditioner, the other in discussing the industrial freezing processes available to permit fresh bread to be offered all day, every day. However, there's no mention of the fact that dead ("deactivated") yeast makes up about 30% of 'active dry' yeast, and that the resultant Glutathione accounts for one of the most significant differences between "active dried" and "instant" yeast. And that as "fresh" (compressed) yeast ages in storage, its glutathione content increases. IMHO, that sort of thing ought to be in an "Advanced" book.

The treatment of bread staling is cursory at best. Pages 123 to 4. Freezing or (for once utterly unidentified) "chemicals" are said to be the only options to delay staling. Strange that there should be no mention here of sourdough, or that using less yeast and longer fermentation reduces the rate of staling, or the influence of oil/fat/milk/soya, let alone the influence of the protein level of the flour... or of mixing oxidation.

Curiously, I've found nothing whatsoever discussing different flour milling - or even mention of roller grinding, let alone (proper rather than nominal) stone grinding - and the different qualities of the flour that they offer the baker.

Combine this with the fondness for industrial additives and ingredients, plus the passing mention of sourdoughs and rye, and it is abundantly clear that this is not a treatise on artisan baking. Far from it.

The books sub-title is "a professional approach". I'd suggest that "a catering approach" might be more apposite.

OK class, revision questions - name the two types of pesticide employed in the baking industry - that's right - general-use pesticides and restricted-use pesticides - page 42 - (though if there is any more useful detail than that, I've not found it.)

Now, can you name the Four Critical Stages of Dough Mixing?

This is an impressive 3.2 kilo (7 pound) book.

But I found its content less impressive when examined in detail than the initial impression suggested.

Not a book for sending back to Amazon, but by no means as definitive as it itself suggests.

Specifically regarding baking bread for quality, I think there's much more of practical use in Hamelman's book.

The most useful bits for me are going to be the areas where I know little or nothing - cakes, icing, pastry, biscuits...

Sorry for such a long post.

This was not intended as any sort of a rant.

Simply, I felt that it was necessary to explain (and give a few examples of) those aspects of the book that disappointed me, and had not been touched on in previous posts.

To go against the flow of almost unqualified praise, I think justification should be shown. I hope I've managed that, in a reasoned and reasonable manner.

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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dougal: While I respect your convictions and your desire to critique the book, some of your allegations are wrong.

I would rather save my breath but, yes, use of bromates in flour is illegal in California. This is just one example. I am sure that Michel and the others would appreciate your feedback and I think you should offer it to him.

RE: Dogmatic teachings...I think I know "who that came from."

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artisanbaker, I certainly wish you'd expend some breath in defense of this book because I'm sure you'd be more eloquent than I.

dougal, I haven't had the book long enough to analyze it as critically as you have. I did flip through the chocolate section and I did notice a glaring error on page 955, Figure 22-9 (the legend for the graph doesn't match up to the labels). That was just while skimming through the book to see what it offered.

I believe that if you approach the book as a scientist (which it seems you're doing), you'll be disappointed in this and many other books. You claim to be an amateur, yet you're discussing things that I think even most professional bakers (those making their living in the industry) would be hard pressed to either understand or care about. As a text book (like so many texts) it is meant to cover a broad range of topics whether in depth or not. I don't interpret the tone to be "unrelentingly didactic", I think it is the perfect tone for a text. Again, I haven't read the entire book yet.

I'll be sure to come back to this topic when I have taken a closer look at the text, but I think one will find that even as a professional, there is a lot to be learned from this book and others like it. I have no relationship with SFBI or Michel Suas, but a text like this must have been a tremendous undertaking and I continue to believe that it is a large step above the current benchmark written by Wayne Gisslen.

As an aside, I'm not sure what "catering" means in England...can you explain what you mean by this?

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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First, I took the professional program at Michel Suas' San Francisco Baking Institute. My classmates and I baked most of the recipes in Advanced Bread and Pastries, and I can tell you they all work. Which is more than I can say about any other cookbook I own.

Second, dougal, you seem like a valuable, intelligent person, but you need someone to tell you that that was a rant, not constructive to anyone or anything.

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First, I took the professional program at Michel Suas' San Francisco Baking Institute.  My classmates and I baked most of the recipes in Advanced Bread and Pastries, and I can tell you they all work.  Which is more than I can say about any other cookbook I own.

Second, dougal, you seem like a valuable, intelligent person, but you need someone to tell you that that was a rant, not constructive to anyone or anything.

I'm glad the recipes work. That's always a good thing (and not always a certainty). I don't believe, however, that dougal's criticism was in any way a rant. He (or she) offered a fair, thorough critique of the book as an "advanced" text from the point of view of a an "advanced" amateur baker. And I found the critique informative and valuable. Will it it preclude me from buying the book? Certainly not. Will it make me give the book a more jaundiced peruse than I might have otherwise? Absolutely. And I thank him (her) for it. Too many books hit the shelves without a serious review. I am concerned about trans fats. I am concerned about bromates and whether they have a place in the non-industrial kitchen. Whether or not recipes work is one thing. Whether or not those recipes contribute to a downward spiral of industrial shortcuts and dubious ingredients is entirely another. I, for one, want to know both. That is the only way a consumer can make an informed decision.

I'm not condemning the book. It's in my Amazon shopping cart as we speak. But we can't condemn it its critics for pointing out its shortcomings, either. Especially if those shortcomings involve questionable ingredients and processes. That's just good reviewing.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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artisanbaker, I certainly wish you'd expend some breath in defense of this book because I'm sure you'd be more eloquent than I.

[

I'll see what I can do; off the top of my head: salt preserves the carotenoid pigments, which are critical flavor compounds in wheat.

So, "can it really preserve the creamy colouring from the carotenoids against oxidation?"

The answer would be yes, according to my colleagues, who hold Masters in Baking.

I will reference pages 68-72 regarding mixing and see what I can post regarding the quality of information presented.

Honestly, I have just skimmed through the book and remain convinced that it is a "must have." Keep in mind with respect that this is the First Edition; if there are kinks then they can be sorted.

The price is totally in check for a book of this quality. This is why I consider it a "must have."

To reduce the risk of sounding redundant or defensive, I will refrain from participating more in this discussion to the best of my ability.

With respect,

RMA

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Re mixing times

I agree that rotation speed is definitely a factor in mixing time, but in that section of the book the rotation speed was explicitly defined as a constant (speed 1), making the number of revolutions and the mixer model the only other major factors to consider.

Re salt & oxidation:

I've read about this from a number of sources, most notably from King Arthur Flour and (I think) from Hamelman's book. Salt does delay oxidation -- perhaps it has something to do with its hygroscopic properties?

Re ice cream:

Pasteurizing the dairy in ice cream enhances the flavor greatly -- the difference between scalded and unscalded ice creams is night and day. I really don't think it's a food safety issue when they tell you to cook the milk since it's safe for them to assume that the milk you're using has already been pasteurized.

Also, several (more accessible) options for stabilizers and monostearate are mentioned in the book.

The bottom line for me is that these recipes are well-tested and are actually used in SFBI's bakery and cafe (http://www.thoroughbreadandpastry.com/). I'd pay the same amount just for spreadsheets for the fomulas/recipes alone.

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