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Bread Books for the Home Baker

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The Handmade Loaf is about to be published, and will be a modern classic. I've seen a proof copy and it is amazing. Order it today

Jack is being rather modest here and not mentioning that several of his own loaves are pictured on pages 160-161 of the book, is quoted on page 162 and is acknowledged by Dan on page 190 (along with my good self and eGullet) so congratulations to him.

I have only just got the book and have not had the chance to read it properly, but flicking through, it certainly looks like one of the nicest food books I have seen this year. It includes interesting articles about his travels in Europe as well as step by step instructions and recipes that cover everything from natural leaven to Chelsea buns. If that wasn't enough, Dan even took the excellent photos himself. No one loves a smart arse do they?

Amazon.co.uk link (not yet listed on Amazon.com).

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Andiesenji: I too went to Dunwoody although much later. Do you have a copy of "A Treatise on Baking?" Mine is worn out and falling apart, but I love it. I also have a copy of "Breads, Rolls, and Sweet Doughs" published by Paul Richards in 1932 that we used as a resource. The approach and insight from previous eras can foster an appreciation of what we are doing now and how we got here.

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i like the village baker by ortiz.

i was an intern at the nbc @ dunwoody for 6 months during 2000/2001. dunwoody's reputation is great among bakers of all types.

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Do you mean Wihlfahrt's book? I have the third edition. It's way up on the top shelf of the bookcase. I haven't opened it for years. I collect cookbooks and tried to buy a first edition at an estate auction a few years ago but was unsuccessful. Some guy was more determined to have it than I was. I have the big blue book, Formulas for Bakers, that I also got when I was in school.

When I was at Dunwoodie there was only one other girl in the class. A lot of the men were in the service, sent there for training as the institute had a contract with the government to train bakers. I graduated from high school in 1955 and was at Dunwoodie for the 18 month course. Since my mother owned a bakery I didn't have to go through the placement program (now called externship at most schools.)

I don't recall the other book, somewhere in my boxes of junk I still have my notebook from school. And I have a pile of the bulletins from the AIB that we used to get in school.

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I also recall that those two winters in Minneapolis were the coldest in my experience. I thought Wisconsin was cold (after having grown up in the south) but the Minneapolis winter was beyond belief. I was very thin back then but wore so many layers of clothes I probably looked like the Michelin Man.

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Andiesenji, Yes, it is the Wihlfahrt book. I regard it as an historical document in American baking. And yes, it was cold there. When I attended, the program had been reduced to ten months.

artisanbaker, I attended three sessions at the NBC and it was a fantastic experience. You are very fortunate to have experienced and internship there. I remain close with several former interns and they benefited immensely.

Dunwoody and NBC...............what a time, what a place..............


Edited by boulak (log)

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Thanks, Seth, for this topic and your illuminating comments on bread books. It was just in time for me to strike RLB's book from my Amazon Christmas gift list before anyone bought it, and substitute "The Bread Baker's Apprentice."

I remember when you started your bread baking journey and am impressed and amazed at how far you've come!

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It's seemed to me for a while that we ought to have some sort of resource to which a person could refer to be able to get some kind of handle on the ever-increasing, but still relatively manageable, universe of serious bread books.  And so I've tried-- humbly, for the good of the community!-- to take a stab at creating such a resource here.

This is a great list, Seth. I would add Raymond's Calvel's The Taste of Bread (Le Gout du Pain). Chef Calvel revolutionized French bread baking in the early 80"s with new techniques that are used internationally now. It is geared for the professional but all the recipes are easily scalable-a good excuse for beginners to learn Baker's Perctenage! Unfortunately, the English translation is $76. Ridiculous. The French is about US $25. This and Nancy Silverton, Bernard Clayton and Joe Ortiz have taught me home bread baking. Thanks for starting this discussion. Woods

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...  I would add Raymond's Calvel's The Taste of Bread (Le Gout du Pain).  Chef Calvel revolutionized French bread baking in the early 80"s with new techniques that are used internationally now.  It is geared for the professional but all the recipes are easily scalable-a good excuse for beginners to learn Baker's Perctenage!  Unfortunately, the English translation is $76.  Ridiculous.  The French is about US $25.  This and Nancy Silverton, Bernard Clayton and Joe Ortiz have taught me home bread baking.  Thanks for starting this discussion.  Woods

My copy cost $99! :angry:

I didn't include it because, as you mention, it is geared toward professionals. It is a book that any baker will learn from, however, so I think you are right that it was an oversight not to include it.

I also noticed a mistake in my original post. Yesterday I was making the delicious semolina filone bread on p. 124 of the Glezer book, and I happened to notice in the sourdough section that she wants you to feed your (firm) starter until it will quadruple, not triple, in eight hours. Mine would triple and then flatten out and recede a bit.


Edited by SethG (log)

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Amy Viny mentioned Alford and Duguid's most recent book. I'd love to hear more about that, as well as opinions of the breads in their Flatbreads and Flavors.

Suzanne,

Flatbread and Flavors is many things in one book: a travel diary, a cook book and a baking book, if not even more. The recipes are divided according to Geographic origin and each chapter includes bread recipes, dishes and dips that can be served with them and a few travel stories related to these. The whole makes for a very pleasant read.

I found the recipes work fine and the bread-accompanying dish matches are great when I'm looking for some new "ethnic" :rolleyes: dish to prepare at home and have no inspiration. Still, there are a few things that can be improved. The leavened breads recipes use IMO too much yeast and therefore rise too quickly compromising the final product's flavor. I've modified them decreasing yeast amount, increasing rise time (using cooler rooms and even fridge), and even adapted a few of them to use sourdough starter with very nice results.

If you like flatbreads it definitely is a book to have, I don't think there's anything comparable out there.

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Glad to see so much praise for "Flatbreads and Flavors", I put it on my list of favorites on another bread book thread. I'm prejudiced since I got to spend a beautiful Napa day baking with Jeff and Rohit Singh (owner, Breads of India in the Bay area, and, hope that he writes the book he said he was working on - three years ago).

I guess that anthropology is my thing because my faves are books that document times past - Clayton's "Breads of France" because it preserves some of the recipes from the S.S. France. The "Secrets of Jesuit Baking" by Brother Rick Curry - because he is a member of the order that had a seminary in my hometown as a kid - and sold their bread once a year as a fundraiser, (haven't recovered this recipe that turned me into a bread freak tho). But, the other recipes rock in general.

"The Modern Pastry Chef's Guide", by Dominique D'Ermo (1962). It's the Miami Beach school of pastry and bread, but back then you had to know both disciplines to call yourself a Pastry Chef. I found a copy of this book at Kitchen Arts and Letters a few years back. What's old is new again.

"The Holiday Inn International Cook Book", edited by Ruth M. Malone (1962 with a bunch of newer editions). The grand-daddy of retro, with lots of regional American bread recipes - and influenced by the many European chefs working in these kitchens at that time. I re-read it at least once a year for giggles and re-inspiration.

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For almost 40 years my favorite bread book has been Dolores Casella's "A World of Breads" published in 1966. I'm not into sourdoughs and artisan type breads, preferring to buy them, but love to bake sweet dough breads and novelty loaves. I don't know of any cookbook in my library I've used as much as this one. Amazon has several used copies.

Some of my favorite recipes from this book are: Sour Cream Muffins, Jewish Braids (richer than challah, not as rich as brioche, great for sandwiches), Parmesan Bubble Loaf, Potato Bread/Rolls, Swedish Limpe, Whole Wheat Refrigerator Rolls, Sour Cream Waffles, Viennese Christmas Fruit Bread, Stollen, and Orange Bread--which makes the best bread pudding I know, using Vincent Price's double boiler method.

"Beard on Bread" may not be a great book but it contains one of my all time favorites, his Oatmeal Bread.

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This is a great post which deserves resurrecting.

Reading through the thread, so many of my favorites came up, it was like running into old friends.

I have E. David, and have read her, but have never baked her. The book was educational, but the recipes did not inspire.

I love Bernard Clayton's Breads of France, and have baked many of the breads. One I recall was a corronne made with pear and pepper, which was wonderful, and another -- was it Pain Brie? -- which needed to be beaten soundly with a club for something like 20 minutes. Heaven! I made the Pain Hawaiian, mentioned in Seth's original post, and it was the only disappointment of the lot.

Baking With Julia has some wonderful recipes. Were it not for BWJ, I would never have attempted croissants or danish pastry -- both fun and delicious. The buttermilk loaves are my staple white bread recipe.

I read and re-read The Village Baker so many times that I wore my paperback out. I purchased a hardback to read and, having saved all of the falling pages, bake with the paperback leaves! There is one started by fermenting an apple -- I never felt more accomplished in my life!

I wasn't move by Maggie Glezer's first bread book enough to buy it, but I absolutely love her latest -- A Blessing of Challah. I've made several breads now, even though we are in the middle of a heat wave and we don't have central air -- and I have loved everything I've made. The sweet glazed challah from the South stands out in my mind, as does the babka, which was so beautiful I didn't want to cut it. When I did, it made my 8-year-old squeal with delight. Her basic recipes start mostly with slurries including the yeast, 1/4 or so of the flour and all of the water, set aside for 10 to 20 minutes. She does give directions where appropriate for using a sourdough.

While I love Dugoud & Alford's breakthrough cookbook, Hot Sour Salty Sweet, I was not as thrilled with their baking book. I loved reading it, I loved looking at the pictures, but I didn't enjoy the recipes very much. (That said, there is a laminate cookie recipe that is really too good to be true!)

I'm glad somebody mentioned Ramballi's Boulangerie. A charming read and, IMHO, a terrific brioche recipe. I haven't tried any other, I don't think, but that one was a keeper!

Now I'm jonesin' to make bread -- gotta get my yeast fix!


Edited by Comfort Me (log)

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Let me plug Dan Lepard's latest book "The Handmade Loaf" ISBN 1-84000-966-7. The recipes are interesting (e.g. Cucumber pickle juice rye loaf), well researched, with excellent pictures of technique, but also I feature on page 160...

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I am newer to Egullet than the origin of this thread, so I probably would not have discovered it if you hadn't resurrected it; thank you!

I add my thanks to SethG for the original, spot-on reviews. It's wonderful to remember the hippies and prehistoric giants had an important place in the personal development of so many of us breadies. And even if the books seem like relics now, I, for one, still have favorites that work for me--Tassajara's whole wheat pancakes, for example, or Beard's corn chili bread (with vastly reduced proportions of butterfat).

Also, long before I knew about slow fermentations, or any theory at all, for that matter, I developed a method based on Beard's recipe for what he called "Pizza caccia nanza" that involved making the dough one evening, refrigerating it, and baking it the next evening. Who had heard of "retarding the dough" back then? But that was my introduction to focaccia-like bread, before I'd heard of that, either. I made it hundreds of times, and I still sometimes use his technique of inserting garlic cloves and then removing them before serving.

Thanks again for the memories and the updates.

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Let me plug Dan Lepard's latest book "The Handmade Loaf" ISBN 1-84000-966-7. The recipes are interesting (e.g. Cucumber pickle juice rye loaf), well researched, with excellent pictures of technique, but also I feature on page 160...

It's not available from amazon.com... :unsure:


Edited by doronin (log)

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Okay, hold on a minute! The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger, out way before Rose Levy Berenbaum's, is not on anyone's list, and I'm afraid it MUST be! It is our most frequentlly referred to book in my bake shop. Beth knows her way around a loaf, I have to say. Also not to be missed are her Bread for Breakfast and Breads of the Southwest. The directions are easy to follow, the breads are delicious and there are breads for all occasions.

Personally, I think Breads From La Brea Bakery is not for the faint of heart, or for people who have other things in their lives to do other than bread. I make one of her breads regularly, but maybe my oven just isn't cut out for her methods or I just don't have the patience for a three day bread. Lovely read, though.

And I must take up for the Tassajara Bread Book. Heavy and cloyingly sweet? Are you sure you're following the directions? Cut back on the sweetener if you must, or add a little salt, but the basic bread recipe is my "little black dress" of bread. Dress it up with all unbleached AP, or dress it down with every whole grain in your cupboard, but the four hours you must spend with this bread is worth every second. And that's just time hanging out with it, not working it. Make the sponge by stirring 100 strokes (it's so relaxing!), let it sit for an hour. Add the rest of your ingredients, knead to a smooth and lovely dough. Rise once, gently deflate, rise twice, gently deflate, form loaves, turn on the oven, and by the time the oven in hot, the loaves are ready. It's one of my favorite things to make on my day off from baking, because it's effortless and rewarding. The four risings insure that the grainiest of loaves will hold together through slicing, and put up with sloppy sandwich fillings. And the carrot cake is the best in the universe, no exaggeration.

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I've been baking bread for a lot of years and my cookbooks are the old faithfuls already

mentioned here--Beard on Bread, Elizabeth David, Bernard Clayton; I used to make a great Cuban bread from The NYT Cookbook.

I read all the newer books--but i get them from the library because my goal is to simplify--I've gotten rid of most of my cookbooks in the past year or so--and the only one i was inspired to buy--and this may reveal that I'm a lightweight--is Beth Hensperger's Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook.

I love having homemade bread, but if t takes 3 days of work I'm only going to make it occasionally. Hensperger's biga recipes enable me to start a bread around lunchtime and finish it before dinner in the oven--and with at the most 15 minutes of work--they are stupendous, too--with crisp floury

crust and an open crumb--there are some nice foccaccia type breads, also--the Roman bread is a constant for me.

I haven't had much luck with her sourdoughs, but every other recipe has been at least decent, and sometimes wonderful.

Zoe


Edited by zoe b (log)

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I am new to the world of bread, and while I can understand some of the pique at RLB's tone, I have found her Bread Bible to be a wonderful tool for a beginner. The early section on technique is priceless, and I have had great success with her basic hearth bread and ciabatta. As the only in-depth bread book on my shelf, I have found it to be very user-friendly.

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I have to second the motion on Dolores Casella. I love her Mexican Spoon Bread, which is not a yeast bread, but I can eat too much of it anyway.

And I second the motion on paring down and relying on classics (prehistoric? ouch!) that work for you. Baking is in the hands, and if you find someone with hands like yours, you're going to want to walk with them.

Or some other mixed metaphor . . .


Edited by Lindacakes (log)

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This a great thread, thanks!

I love RLB's Bread Bible as a book to start with. I pretty much learned to bake out of it, and there are breads in it I turn to time and time again. What I love about it (and what I think makes it great for a beginning baker) is how warm and un-pretentious it is. The whole "I discovered wheat germ bread" idea aside, she doesn't assume that you know everything already, she breaks down each step with an explanation that makes sense to a novice, and her breads aren't technically tricky. It's not meant to be a master's thesis about bread, just a solid introductory education to the science and art of it. When I was starting out, I like the fact that her measurements were very precise, and she gave you some idea of what to expect the dough to feel and look like as you went along. This is without a doubt the book I would give to a freind who wanted to step up from bread machines.

All that said, my primary text now has been The Handmade Loaf. Wow! What a fantastic home baking book for taking it to the next level.

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