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Dec 20, 2006 10:01 AM

Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman

Hi, to those who have this book of Jeffrey Hamelman, I'd like to know if this book is for bakers who knead by hands? And what do you think of his book?

As I don't have any bread machine or KitchenAid, I'll be interested also if you can recommend any bread baking books that doesn't recommend using a bread machine. I'm not from US and don't have access to a library to check baking books. Thanks in advance for any info.

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  1. Hamelman's book doesn't even have the word "knead" in the index, and the section on hands deals mainly with shaping. He presumes you use mechanical mixers. Still, if you learn basic hand kneading techniques, you will find the book one of the best around for its excellent recipes and technical information.
    Having said that, there are a lot of other books you may find useful, and you can get a peak inside most of them by checking the Amazon website.
    I don't remember the titles of all of them, but I can list some authors and you can track them through web book dealer sites. Ingram and Shaptner's book has been reprinted in many editions, and it is filled with recipes from around the world. Collister and Blake have two books out, both with very good photos of techniques and recipes. Another favorite along those lines is Tom Jaine's "Baking Bread at Home." Also look at Carol Field's "Italian Baker." If you want something a little meatier and with more technical discussion, then look to Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking Across America" or her "Blessing of Bread" (great traditional Jewish breads). Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice" is right up there too. In some ways, the best one around is Ortiz's "THe Village Baker." Nancy Silverton's "Breads from the La Brea Bakery"--which is based on naturally leavened breads--has some great discussion of hand kneading techniques. And, of course, Rose Levy Berenbaum's "Bread Bible." And if you have a food processor and can get a copy of it (it is currently out of print), Charles van Over's "Best Bread Ever" may well turn out to be your favorite bread book.
    In any case, there are very few kinds of bread that cannot be kneaded by hand. Even very wet doughs, that you would think cannot be kneaded by hand, respond well to pulling and folding like taffy. I haven't checked the web, but I would guess that you could find all the techniques you need to know on the Internet. Then you won't worry about whether or not you have a stand mixer or bread machine.