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Frustrated Bread Maker


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My mother was brilliant at baking all sorts of bread and did so with deceptive ease. A few years ago I decided to follow in her footsteps (r.i.p. mom!) and have struggled to produce consistently edible bread. I live in a very high humidity climate (70-80% year round) and I know that has an effect. Which of your books would you recommend? I still consider myself a novice in spite of weekly efforts. I have been most successful with the milk bread and white sandwich bread recipes in the 97 edition of Joy of Cooking.

Edited by glossyp (log)

"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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There are a lot of very good bread books available. I have been baking bread for 48 years, since I went to baker's school (Dunwoodie) in the mid 50s. However I still have lots to learn and I buy every baking book that comes along.

I have found that the most informative and easiest to understand, are the books by Peter Reinhart.

I bought his first book quite a few years ago and found that his philosophy greatly appealed to me. His subsequent books have just improved on the theme. My favorite remains Crust and Crumb but any will serve you well.

I have given The Bread Baker's Apprentice to several aspiring bakers and they all feel it has made a great difference in the way they approach the task and make it much more enjoyable.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Hi,

Yes, I agree that "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" is probably my most complete bread book so, if you could only have one, get that one. It covers a lot of the background science in lay language and the feedback I've been getting is that most people are happy with the formulas, the instructions, and the results of their baking.

As for humidity well, for bread that's a good thing, usually helping with rise and such. In some instances you may have to cut back slightly on the water in your dough to compensate for moister flour but this is hard to quantify from here, since the brand of flour and it's age are key factors. That's why I always suggest learning to let the dough dictate what it needs. In other words, use the instructions as a guideline but, in the end, you have to adjust the final dough and develop a feel for it and this only comes from experience. Fortunately, it's a cheap hobby and even what you think of as your failures will probably still impress people if you discipline yourself not to apologize for your bread. My dictum is this: Fresh baked bread is always a hit no matter how it turns out."

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There are a lot of very good bread books available.  I have been baking bread for 48 years, since I went to baker's school (Dunwoodie) in the mid 50s.  However I still have lots to learn and I buy every baking book that comes along. 

I have found that the most informative and easiest to understand, are the books by Peter Reinhart. 

I bought his first book quite a few years ago and found that his philosophy greatly appealed to me.  His subsequent books have just improved on the theme.  My favorite remains Crust and Crumb but any will serve you well. 

I have given The Bread Baker's Apprentice to several aspiring bakers and they all feel it has made a great difference in the way they approach the task and make it much more enjoyable.

Thanks for your kind words. "Crust & Crumb," I think, does have the best sourdough information, and the sourdough starter formula, though more fussy than the one in "Bread Baker's Apprentice," is more reliable.

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I think the most important thing I have learned from both Crust & Crumb and THe Bread Baker's Apprentice is that bread recipes are meant to be more guideline than gospel. Learning what a well made dough should feel like is key.

While a well made dough may feel the same in your kitchen and mine, what we need to add to it is likely to be different. I may need to add more water and you, because your enivronment is consistently humid, may need to add less.

The more you bake, the smarter your fingers will get :smile:

Edited by KyleW (log)

Nuthin' says luvin'...

www.kyleskitchen.net

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A big mahalo to all who offered suggestions, advice and support. Especially, I want to thank Peter for being here. I have located a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice at the Kahala Mall Barnes & Noble (Borders doesn't even have it in their database???) and they are holding it for me. Hopefully, I will have a report on "enlightened" bread baking efforts before Peter signs off at the end of the week!

"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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Thanks for your kind words. "Crust & Crumb," I think, does have the best sourdough information, and the sourdough starter formula, though more fussy than the one in "Bread Baker's Apprentice," is more reliable.

I have looked forward to, purchased and literally devoured every book since "Brother Juniper" and have followed your postings to the Bread-Baker's list and have also had many online discussions as well as one face to face with Bob, the Tarheel baker, who is an unabashed fan.

The recipes are so well tested in many different conditions and kitchens, that all of the "bugs" have been worked out prior to publication.

I wish I could say the same for all bread books. In some I have come across some errors that render a recipe unworkable and I wonder who was doing the checking against the original recipe.

I know that producing a book is a huge project but some people just do the job better than others.

I never hesitate to recommend one of your books because I know the purchaser will be pleased.

Andie Paysinger

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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