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Bread Books for the Home Baker

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Hate the Silverton book, mostly for the overly complicated sourdough instructions.

Love the Silverton book! Love, love, love!, and especially for the precise sourdough instructions.

I tried Peter Reinhart's sourdoughs, both Crust & Crumb version and Bread Baker's Apprentice, neither worked. Tried Dan Lepard's (Semolina), didn't work. Tried Silverton's, worked like a charm. Yeah, took a long time, but the starter works and is very resilient. She's in my refrigerator now, making alcohol! :) [Hamelman's rye sourdough also worked for me.]

Silverton is not for the beginner, not at all; but, if you have some years into it, you simply must have it. The Olive bread I make time and again. It's my favorite bread. The Fig Anise is a hard one, but it's delicious even when it fails. I just slice thin and call it fig biscotti. :D

One [important] thing is she uses Clavel's mix, wait 20 minutes, mix. That means a very strong dough after 20 minutes. That means...bye bye Kitchenaid mixer! Careful or you'll do like I did and destroy your mixer in no time.

The Olive bread is worth a few mixers, though! Trust me.

I notice she makes it in a food processor. I should try that.

It's the 5th video here:


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Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Peter Reinhart's books, any or all.

However I would start with Crust and Crumb.

I started with Crust & Crumb and agree, very good starting point. 7 years on and I still go back to it.

Reinhart books are weak on shaping, but then what bread book isn't. I've given up on learning bread shaping from a book and just go to YouTube instead.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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  • 2 months later...

I'm reviving this thread because someone asked me about breadbaking books.

I would recommend Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice for his explication of breadbaking theory. I always refer to Reinhart's book whenever I have a question about breadbaking, or when I'm troubleshooting. I've had problems with some of his recipes, though. Sometimes Reinhart's technique can be a little idiosyncratic. I suggest reading a range of bread books, not only Reinhart's, for exposure to different methods.

In my early days of breadbaking, I liked Judith Jones' The Book of Bread. Jones was the book editor who discovered Julia Child, and she wrote this book with her husband. A well put-together book, with clear instructions and reliable recipes. Now out-of-print, but available thru used book sites like http://www.abebooks.com/

For bread recipes, I especially like anything of Deborah Madison's. Madison is the vegetarian cooking guru, so one might not think of her immediately when it comes to breadbaking. But she was instrumental in setting up the famous, now defunct Tassajara Bakery in SF. Her bread recipes, or any of her baking recipes, in the Greens cookbook or Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, are rock-solid, delicious, and worth making. Her Country French Bread in Greens is still one of my favorite sourdough breads.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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  • 7 months later...

sorry i edited all out and decided to start to new topic since I am asking for

ONE bread cookbook for the novice cook and baker

Edited by Aloha Steve (log)

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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  • 2 years later...

Wow, no new posts since 2009? Last year my daughter and I got Baking with Julia for my husband. It was a success. He's a pretty good baker, but has limited technique, and still makes some basic loaves he learned from the Tassajara Bread Book way back when, but he's starting to branch out. He makes a lot of bread for sandwiches, and it has to be toastable. Mostly we don't eat sweet breads.

We own exactly two other bread books, besides the crumbling Tassajara and the Julia book: Glezer's Artisan Baking and an ancient copy of Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery, which I have rarely seen him look at.

I want to get him another bread book, since he seems inclined to leaf through options when contemplating what to bake next. I'm thinking Reinhart's Crust and Crumb or Carol Field's Italian Baker. What are some ideas for more recent publications that you bread bakers have liked?

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I've had good luck with the recipes from Ciril Hitz's books, Baking Artisan Bread: 10 Expert Formulas for Baking Better Bread at Home and Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads: Sweet and Savory Baking for Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond. He also has some helpful videos on youtube about shaping and slashing loaves.

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I Like all of Reinhart's books, but my favourite is Artisan breads everyday, then Bread Baker's Apprentice and then Crust and Crumb.



Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I would suggest The Cheese Board: Collective Works if you and your husband like that bakery or its progeny, Arizmendi. There are recipes for all the bakery's goods--their breads, muffins, scones, pizza. Nothing complicated in any of the recipes I've tried, all solid recipes, and tasty.

Does your husband do no-knead bread? You could look at Jim Lahey's My Bread, based on his NYT no-knead method.

Has your husband read Peter Reinhart's Brother Juniper's Bread Book? It's a delightful read. It also has the recipes for the original Brother Juniper's Bakery breads, if you remember those. Not really a cookbook, though.

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I really like Breads, which is part of The Good Cook series from Time Life. Excellent for beginning bread bakers, lots of really good and consistent recipes, and some faboo ideas for bread modifications. Also great for explaining the why and whatfor of the basic ingredients without getting too technical. My copy appears to have been published in 1981; I have no idea whether it's still in print.

Aha, it appears that it is.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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  • 1 year later...

Bernard Clayton Jr.'s "The Complete Book of Breads." Great selection of recipes. Each one with directions by hand, mixer, or processor. Nothing fancy or special required. Been using it for decades with great success. Even with twenty or thirty other bread books, this remains my number one go-to book for bread.

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Back in the last century I decided that if I was going to eat bread at home it was going to be my own bread. I have stuck to it. (And it has stuck to me.) If I could keep only one bread book, if I could keep only one cookbook, it would be Raymond Calvel's.

Does anyone know if Professor Calvel is still alive?

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Back in the last century I decided that if I was going to eat bread at home it was going to be my own bread. I have stuck to it. (And it has stuck to me.) If I could keep only one bread book, if I could keep only one cookbook, it would be Raymond Calvel's.

Does anyone know if Professor Calvel is still alive?

Wikipedia says he died in 2005.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 months later...

The polarization above surprises me a little, too. To be sure, great bread can sometimes rise to art, and to learn to bake even a basic loaf requires the acquisition of new skills by those who have never done it before. That said, bread is a role player, not the star, and can easily become the subject of fetishism among passionate foodies. South Jersey hoagie rolls and New Orleans French bread hardly qualify as great bread (the famous New York Times quick bread recipe yields something far more sophisticated and interesting), but the hoagie and the po boy would not be worth eating without them. That is what I mean by bread as a role player, a pleasure-giving part of every fine meal, but never the meal itself. BAKING, on the other hand, seems to me something far broader and a true art form, with bread baking merely a rich and rewarding subset. I have most of the books mentioned above, used to greater or lesser extent, and I can understand why purists might favor some of the more involved and esoteric books over those of Reinhart. However, while I love good bread more than any other foodstuff, bread only gets so good, and unless your only friends are the greatest bread bakers on earth, Reinhart will not disappoint. You can quibble with his techniques, but rarely with his results. As an aside, his sticky buns and cinnamon rolls are as good as can be made by anybody...

Bill Klapp


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my favorite would have to be a tie between Bread Baker's Apprentice and Van Over's Best Bread Ever. But if I had to have one only, it would be Van Over's book.

Why? Because his food processor technique produces bread that is quicker to make, tastier, with a longer shelf life.

Weak point of Van Over's book is relatively little about wild yeast breads. But it's such a fantastic technique that he teaches, that it is well worth finding this out-of-print used and snapping it up (I have two copies.)

BBA is such a close runner-up and is the superior book in many ways...it just lacks the food processor method as the centerpiece. So it involves 10 or 12 minutes of kneading which is eliminated with the food processor technique.

That's why my response would be to buy both!

I have just ordered this based on this post and it arrived today. I have nearly every book mentioned in this thread. I do like Rinehart a lot; Hensperger; Tassajara (I go way back), and other oldies but goodies, Secrets of a Jewish Bakers, and various others for specific things. This appealed because one of my favorite pastry books, Helen Fletcher's New Pastry Cook, is also focused on the food processor. Thought I'd see what this has to offer. Thanks.

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  • 1 year later...

I'm thinking of putting a couple of bread books on my Christmas "wish list". In reading this and other threads and forums, two names popped up frequently. They would be Ken Forkish and Dan Lepard. Are their books the ones to included? Are there others? I currently have the Bread Bakers Apprentice and Artisan Breads Every Day both by Peter Rheinhart and Jim Lahey's My Bread. I am just a home baker and have recently been making sourdough bread. So, I am not a novice but I'm far from being an expert. Any suggestions?

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I am glad I found Ken Forkish. I love his bread and the ease with which it can be made. But the book is extremely repetitive and one wonders if it could not have been condensed into a pamphlet. However for those people who don't like to flip back and forth I suppose it makes sense to repeat everything word for word for each recipe changing only the formula and the ingredients.

I don't know that you will do better than the Bread Baker's Apprentice in terms of theory or as I recall in the variety of recipes.

I am seriously looking at Della Fattoria Bread by Kathleen Weber. Her bakery supplied the French Laundry for many years but since I have not yet used it I cannot recommend it.

If you can look at any books in the library you might land on the one that particularly appeals to you what you are trying to do.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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  • 6 months later...
Guest Caren Palevitz

The team behind Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is hard at work on their next multivolume set, which is completely dedicated to bread. For the new book, we’d like to honor some of the greatest bakers and their cookbooks from around the globe in our new book, and we would love to hear from the eGullet community to expand our search.


In your opinion, what are the must-have cookbooks or iconic recipes that bakers should have in their library? If you were creating a top 10 list for bread cookbooks, what books would be on it? What are your top ten bread recipes?


For example: Tartine Bread, Country Loaf recipe


You can read more about the new book here, and here for more information about who we are and what we do.

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