• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

  • product-image-quickten.png.a40203b506711f7664fc62024e54a584.pngDid you know that these all-volunteer forums are operated by the 501(c)3 not-for-profit Society for Culinary Arts & Letters? This holiday season, consider a tax-deductible Quick Ten Bucks to support the eG Forums and help us remain completely advertising-free. Thanks to all those who have donated so far!

CRUZMISL

Bread Books for the Home Baker

138 posts in this topic

If you had a choice of one bread baking book (artisinal) which would it be? OK. You can have 2 choices.

Thanks,

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't like Reinhard's books. He is often if not plain wrong, then at least sub-optimal.

Not sure about Nancy Silverton either. Her recipes don't work for me. There are many bad bread books.

Ones I would recommend are Dan Lepard's Baker and Spice.

Joe Ortiz The Village Baker

and then various semi-professional ones such as Prof Cavel, and ones such as "Special and Decorative Breads". I've just got Cresci, which looks fantastic, but not baked from it yet (Pannetone here I come).

Also Dan Wing's "Bread Builders", but that is more about building the oven.

Of course there are always the various bread units in egCI..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about the new bread bible book?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How about the new bread bible book?

I've only tried one thing out of The Bread Bible but it worked terrifically. The pugliese.

In Dan Lepard's book for Baker & Spice, my Hot Cross Buns are a slight variation of his. Delicious. But what I'm hoping to follow soon is the baking day Dan put on in London recently. Be sure you check out that lesson on eGCI. Their results look fantabulous.


kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second the Bread baker's Apprentice. I've had really good results from this book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To preface, I baked bread professionally in retail and catering settings for 3 or 4 years, and do so at home now. I've tried a few things.

I third The Bread Baker's Apprentice. That is the beauty of it. Bread recipes do not always work perfectly as written. No recipe does. You can have different yeast, Miami vs Denver climate differences, among others. You start with a basic recipe, then you refine it. The whole idea behind being an apprentice is to learn by doing. The first few may not come out quite right. But if you read the book, somewhere in there you will get the info you need to get it right down the road. It teaches you how to get what you are looking for.

It's like the little old ladies that make bread every day. They know how to compensate for the differences in temperature, humidity, and seasonings.

Plus it is a gorgeous book. If it's for someone who is really interested in learning bread, and not just how to make bread, it is a perfect choice. If you are looking for recipes, there are hundreds. The basics are in The Bread Baker's Apprentice or in How To Cook Everything.


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe:

How serious are you about baking and what type of bread are you interested in? This info will help in giving a recommendation. For serious regular sourdough bakers I found "The Bread Builders" to be the best combination of technical and pratical info for maintaining a starter and baking at home. Fields' book is good for Italian breads and the Ortiz book covers a wide range of styles. The Silverton book is impratical for home bakers altho I've found that the recipes that I've tried worked.

As a professional baker I can say Reinhart's frequently recommended "The Bread Bakers Apprentice" is a major let down. God help the students of Johnson and Wales if they're learning how to shape bread as he demonstrates in this book. That would really be sad. It really bothers me that he would call the book "The Bread Bakers Apprentice" when rather than do a one week stage where he actually would have baked bread, he preferred to do a crash tour of several bakeries so he would have more time to sightsee and shop. For christ sake if your not even capable of being an apprentice for one week you can't really be serious about baking, much less teaching baking.

I can still remember quite clearly the expression I received in return for asking a French head baker what his apprenticeship was like. His look said: you would be ground down into the finest dust if you experienced only five minutes of what I went thru. He mumbled something like, "one hundred hours a week in the shit for no money." If you could see the the speed, rhythm, precision and consistency with which he shapes bread you would understand what it means to be a baker.

It really depresses me to see the crap technique and faulty logic that Reinhart is peddling to an unsuspecting and ignorant public. For example: How is it possible that you include a photograph of how to score a baguette which is actually the perfect example of how not to score a baguette? How do you charge $35 for a book and include full color photos of old and stale bread? How do you make the centerpiece of your book Gosselin's method for baguettes when the version you present is so mangled it bears no relation to what Gosselin actually does? Why coin phrases like "delayed fermentation method" when there are already common words in the baking lexicon which accurately describe this technique, other than to give your misunderstandings the veneer of newness and uniqueness? I could rant on and on...

I'm glad people are getting good or better results from this book, and I'm sure there are many worthwhile things in it, but eventually if you become more serious you will quickly run up against its limitations, mistakes and confusions. I suggest you start elsewhere.

roger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent two frustrating months trying to make bread from Nancy Silverton's Breads from La Brea Bakery book and probably went through 10 kg of organic flour to keep my bloody starter alive (I once brought it to a friends house to make sure I didn't miss a feeding).

The bread I ended up with after all the fuss, was hardly worth the trouble. I can imagine that this book might help a commercial baker get started, but it's a disaster -- as well as a massive waste of time and money -- for the home baker.

I don't think I've baked any bread, save for pizza dough, at home since that fiasco. :hmmm:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Special and Decorative Breads

The Taste of Bread

just about every other book is good for idea generation only.

ps. check out glezer's "artisan baking across america." it's a beautiful and well researched book. also check out "the book of bread" by assire. no recipes but it is by far the most beatuful bread book i've ever seen.

am i over limit?


Edited by artisanbaker (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reinhart's book is getting some pretty polar responses.

From those who don't like it, what are its specific faults? Shaping has already been mentioned - could you give some more info regarding how Reinhart is poor in this area?

(I own the book, and have been looking forward to trying some things out of it - just haven't gotten arround to it yet.)

And, since I own the book, glad also to know that some much more experienced bakers than I have been getting good results from it. Would just like to know a bit more about its faults I guess.

Thanks,

Geoff Ruby

Oh - didn't it also win some fairly major awards - IACP maybe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

james beard awards also!

well, i'll preface this by saying that peter reinhart was my bread instructor when i went to the california culinary academy.

i can't bash the guy as this was my first experience baking bread in my life. let's just say i learned a lot...and i learned a lot of what not to do...

for a beginner, i would recommend anything by beth hensperger ("bread for all seasons", "bread", etc.), she's easy to read, the books are cheap and i think they cover the basics (very basic, basics).

for a little more in depth with regard to european/italian bread: the il fornaio baking book is pretty good.

and of course, baking with julia...from which you can move on to get books by the people who contributed to the series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would go with Crust and Crumb. The barm as elaborated in that book completely changed the way I looked at baking bread, and I was doing it for a living. I have most of the books mentioned in this thread, except silverton, and whoever said there are many bad bread books is right. Artisan Baking Across America is a favorite, and I do like The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but the new Bread Bible is drivel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like Bread Alone, The Village Baker, and Nancy Silverton's book for some things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone have any opinions on Carol Fields's The Italian Baker for a beginner bread baker?

I just ordered this one today on Amazon based on hearing tons of great things about it. By the way, I found the Amazon marketplace to be an incredible resource for cooking - and all other books actually! When you look up a book, it tells you the Used and/or New price next to it. Then you can buy the book directly from a person. Sometimes they're used, but almost always in good to excellent condition. I've bought 3 books that way in the last few weeks.

I got the Carol Fields book for $8 and it normall sells for $25. I got the Il Fornaio Baking Book on there for $4 and its like-new condition. Just thought I'd remind everyone of this great resource.

~WBC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the Field book a lot for the breadth of content and the recipes work too. Haven't used it in a while, but thinking about making the pandoro recipe this Christmas. I've have good results with Hensperger and Reinhart too. Hate the Silverton book, mostly for the overly complicated sourdough instructions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking for a good book or books for the "serious amateur". The following have so far been recommended to me elsewhere:

-"Bread Alone", by Daniel Leader

-"King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion"

-"Bread Bible", by Rose Levy Beranbaum

-"Baking Illustrated", by Cook's Illustrated

Any comments? Thanks


Mark A. Bauman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I saw the thread title, I hopped in to recommend Dan Leader's book...and there it was on your list. To my mind, it's the most "serious" of the books you've listed, and gets you deep into the whole ethos. I've had excellent results baking from it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure about any of those books - very mixed.

Depends on the sort of bread you wnat to make...

I think you need more serious semi-professional books.

Reinhart "The Bread Bake's Apprentice" is often reccomended

Dan Lepard's "Baking with Passion", and he is publishing a new book "Hand made bread" this autumn

Joe Ortiz "Village Baker"

Massari/Zoia "The art of Levened Dough for Pannetone and other italian sweet bread

Then the is the eGCI sourdough course http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=27634

There is only so much you can learn from books, The best way is to jesy keep practicing - bake every week for a year, and you will be getting there, or go and work a stage or two at a bake shop...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nancy Silverton's Breads of La Brea Bakery and Raymond Calvels Le Gout du Pain ( The Taste of Bread ).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter Reinhart's books, any or all.

However I would start with Crust and Crumb.


"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

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I own & treasure every volume written by the wonderful Beth Hensperger. Her ouevre is enthusiastically recommended.

BTW, if you choose to purchase a copy of Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery, be prepared to order commercial sourdough starter (homemade starter is okay, but it lacks Lactobacillus sanfranciso, which is the essential bacteria unique to providing truly authentic Bay Area sourdough bread w/ its characteristic flavour.) You can also hope to obtain proven cultures by either begging or buying from your acquaintances. The real secret is to combine potato starter w/ the San Francisco starter when you mix the dough. The robust potato culture will make your loaves light, whlie the flavourful but wimpy San Francisco culture gives the bread its proper tang. King Arthur Flour in Vermont will be happy to sell you their sourdough wheat & rye starters; but I think that they are shipped only in the cooler months, from Nov. to May.

Further to Silverton: She's very artisanally minded on the subject of the most advantageous yeast to use; she disdains active dry yeast, saying that it makes bland-tasting bread. She functions in a strong sourdough mindset, which is thoroughly justifiable in her commercial position.

A veritable treasure-trove of breadmaking knowledge is Bernard Clayton's New Coimplete Book of Breads. This volume is highly recommended.

I have been making bread for the past 25 years, having learned the basic skills from my father who baked 99 hand-shaped loaves per day in woodfired brick ovens for several years in the 1940s.


"Dinner is theater. Ah, but dessert is the fireworks!" ~ Paul Bocuse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the book of bread (assire)

indispensible

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone seen a new book entitled "Bread: A Baker's Book of Technique's and Recipes"? It is by Jeffrey Hamelman who is (was?) director of educational programs at King Arthur Flour in Vermont. Just heard about the book, haven't seen it personally-wondering if anyone else has and what their opinion of it is.


Mark A. Bauman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By Paul Fink
      This unfortunately titled book changed my life. I always enjoyed cooking and idealized Julia Child &
      Jacque Pepin. But I was a typical home cook. I would see a recipe and try to duplicate it little understanding about what I was doing.
       
      Cooking the Nouvelle Cuisine in America talked about a philosophy of cooking. It showed me that there is more depth to cooking. A history. A philosophy.
      The recipes are very approachable and you can make them on a budget from grocery store ingredients. I read it as a grad student in Oregon, in the late 80's I had access to lots of fresh ingredients. And some very nice wines, cheap! I was suppose to be studying physics but I end up learning more about wine & cooking.
    • By Smokeydoke
      Here is the discussion thread.
      Here is the Amazon link.
      My first recipe was Mushroom Mapo Tofu p. 132  I was blown away by how good this tasted. Very spicy! Very authentic. I didn't miss the meat at all. I told Mr. Smokey I'd add ground pork next time and he said it didn't need it. Mr. Smokey refused pork? Ha!
      Definitely a keeper and maybe a regular rotation spot.
      If I had anything negative to say, it would be the dish wasn't very filling. The recipe is suppose to serve four but the two of us finished it off, no problem, and Mister wasn't full afterwards. A soup, or an appetizer could be paired with the dish to make a heartier meal.
      Note: I did receive a complimentary copy of the book to review, but all opinions of the book and recipes are mine.


    • By nonkeyman
      How to Make Rye Sourdough Bread
      I don't know what it is about bread, but it is my favorite thing to make and eat. A freshly baked loaf of bread solves a world of problems. I was lucky enough to get to be one of the main bakers when I worked at the Herbfarm. We baked Epi, Baguettes, Rolls, Pretzels and so much more.
       

      Rye Sourdough Wood Oven Baked Bread
       
      My fondest memory when I worked there was our field trip to the Bread Lab(wait something this cool came out of WSU, of course!) here in Washington. They grow thousands of varieties of wheat and have some pretty cool equipment to test gluten levels, protein, genetics and so on. I nerded out so hard.
       
      What came out of that trip was this bread. Now I can't recall the exact flour we got from them, but using a basic bread and rye will do the trick. We used to get a special flour for our 100 mile menu. This was where we were limited to only serving food from 100 miles away. So finding a wheat farm that made actual hulled wheat in 100 miles was a miracle. The year before...the thing we made, was closer to hard tack.
       
      Now if you don't have a starter, I recommend starting one! It is a great investment!
       
      Rye Sourdough
      1000 g flour (60% Bread Flour, 40% Rye)
      25 g salt
       
      75 g of honey/molasses
      200 g of Rye starter 
      650 g of water, cold
      Equipment
      Baker Scale (or other gram scale)
      Bench Cutter
      Bread Razor (you could also use one of those straight razors)
       
      Start by taking the cold water, yeast and Honey and mix together and let sit for 10-15 minutes
       
      I know, some of you just freaked out, cold water? Won't that kill the yeast.
       
      Nope, the yeast just needs to re hydrate. I prefer using cold water to slow the yeast down. That way the lactobacillus in the starter has  a good amount of time to start making lactic acid, and really get to flavor town!
       
      While that is sitting, I mix the flour and the salt together(How many times I have forgotten to salt the bread).
       
      Now mix the two products with a kneading hook for 3-5 minutes, only until thoroughly mixed but not yet at the window pane stage of kneading.
       
       
      Instead, place into a bowl and set a timer for one hour. Then when that hour is up, push the dough down and fold all the corners in
       
      Repeat this step 2-3 more times, pending on the outside temperature.
       
      If you happen to have those cool bowls to shape round loafs! Awesome, use them. I would break the boules into 3 balls of about 333 grams
       
      If not then just put the dough in the fridge and do the steps below the next day.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      Once you have bouled the bread, can put it into the fridge and let it sit over night
       
      Again, this lets the bacteria, really get to work(misconception is the yeast adds the sour flavor, nope, think yogurt!)
       
      Now on the next day, heat up whatever form of oven you plan to use. We used a brick oven but if you just have a normal oven, that is fine. Crank it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
       
      If you have not bouled your bread yet, go back and watch the video and break the dough down into three balls of abut 333 grams. Then place the balls on a lightly greased sheet pan. Let sit for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

      If you have used the fancy bowls then turn the the bread out on a lightly greased sheet pan, without the bowl and let temper for 15-30 minutes.
       
       
      If your oven is steam injected, build up a good blast of steam.
       
      If not, throw in a few ice cubes and close the door or put a bath of hot water inside.
       
      The steam is what creates the sexy crust!
       
      Let it build up for a few minutes!
       
      Right before you put the bread into the oven use a bread razor to slice the top of the bread.
       
      Place the dough balls into the oven and douse with another blast of steam or ice and close the oven.
       
      Let them bake for 13 minutes at 450 degrees. Then turn the loaves and bake for another 10 minutes.
       
      Remove when the crust is as dark as you want and the internal temperature exceeds 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
       
      Now pull out and make sure to let cool off of the sheet pan with room to breath underneath. You don't want your crust steaming!
       
      Now here is the hardest part, wait at least 20 minutes before getting into the bread. Also, cutting into bread to early really seems to come out poorly. I would rip the bread until 1-2 hours has passed.
       
      Now serve it with your favorite butter, goat butter or whipped duck fat!
       
    • By Catherine T
      Hi, I have just discovered and registered on this site. My main cooking and baking concern is that I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and haven't been able to eat gluten. BUT I have discovered an exception. When I have visited Continental Europe such as Spain and Russia, I have been able to eat their bread and have had no negative repercussions. Then when I try eating bread in Great Britain and North America I have become sick. My research on the Web has not provided any explanations although I believe the EU has banned GMO grains. I was recently gifted panetonne from a Toronto restaurant called Sud Forno that uses Italian flour and I was able to safely eat it. Another bakery called Forno Cultura advertises that it uses European flour. So I am going to approach them to see if I can buy their flour in bulk. I will let you know how it goes.
    • By JoNorvelleWalker
      Started in on Rob's book tonight.  Nice pictures, interesting philosophy.  The bit about grapevines reminded me ever so much about my balcony.  My grapevine has been growing ten or twenty years, planted by the birds.  Never a grape, ever.  Only recently did I learn that unlike European grapes, the native grapevines are sexual.  This one is undoubtedly a boy.  He provides lovely leaves and shade, and something for the tomatoes to hang onto.
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.