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Oops. I meant Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Any recommendations from this book?

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  1. Can't go wrong here. I enjoyed the cornbread that I made recently.

    1. I got my copy last week and I'm smitten.

      I have the starts of a sourdough civilization that is plotting to take over the world (but will settle on just the back-left corner of my fridge) going, my roomies comment on "what the hell is this sludge taking up all the room for" for the various poolish's and biga's sitting around in there.

      I have barely dented the thing. Too many good recipes, too many good thoughts, LOTS of good background reading. Though, if you are mixing by hand, be warned as there is no advice on that other than a few paragraphs about "all this stuff can be mixed by hand".

      So if you are a complete novice, some google-fu to find proper hand mixing/kneading techniques could be of help. I find that 'the bread bible' by Rose Levy Beranbaum (not the beth hespengers one), is a good accompaniment due to the hand kneading tips alone.

      1. I regularly make bagels with the recipe from this book as good ones are impossible to get out here in CA and this is as close as I can get to the real deal like in NY.

        The pizza recipes are interesting as they go against a lot of the common directions from other sources; I seem to make better pizza from other recipes.

        I'm anxious to try his focaccia but haven't had a chance to.

        Peter is very opinionated and particular but overall has been a lot of help to me in getting familiar with baking in general. I think it definitely is worth getting the book if that is your question

        3 Replies
        1. re: kevine

          I've tried the focaccia, not sure if it was this book or Crust and Crumb but it was something like a three day process. Excellent but I think this recipe of his is very good and takes only one day:


          1. re: chowser

            The focaccia recipe you link to is similar in technique but the list of ingredients differs slightly from the recipe given in Apprentice. Here are the Apprentice ingredients:

            Makes one 17 by 12-inch focaccia

            5 cups (22.5 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
            2 teaspoons (.5 ounce) salt
            2 teaspoons (.22 ounce instant yeast
            6 tablespoons (3 ounces) olive oil
            2 cups (16 ounces) water, at room temperature
            ¼ to ½ cup Herb Oil

            I love the focaccia from Apprentice, especially when made with the Herb Oil specified within the focaccia recipe. Not only good on its own, but it makes truly outstanding sandwiches.

            I'm not as thrilled with the pizza dough from the book; much prefer the Napolitana dough in American Pie. The one in Apprentice stretches much more easily (almost too easily), but isn't crispy/chewy as is the one in AP. Only made it once (just last week) and didn't do a side-by-side, but think I'll stick with the AP recipe in the future.

            1. re: JoanN

              If the technique is the same as the link I posted, then it's not the recipe I used from the Reinhart book. I must have used the one from Crust and Crumb because it started with making a sponge and took three days. I checked the book out from the library. I'll try the recipe you posted above--love the idea of using herb oil. Nothing beats focaccia fresh from the oven.

        2. The pan a la ancienne (or some such name) is really good. I use it for pizza crust and like it better than recipes with olive oil. It's flavorful for such a lean dough.

          1. Great. I wanted to try the pan la ancienne. To clarify: I bought the book and love all the intro and technique stuff, but wanted to know which recipes to try. Pickledgarlic: keep me posted on the results you get and the recipes you tried. Wow - the bagel recipe! Seems like a pain. But I guess you gotta do what you gotta do do get a decent bagel.

            1. herbed focaccia is great.

              1. Can anyone say how it compares to Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread: Techniques and Recipes" and to Nancy Silverton's "Breads from La Brea Bakery"? I've been considering buying the BBA for a while, but want to know how the philosophy or baking style differs (or not!).

                3 Replies
                1. re: Gooseberry

                  I flipped through all of them at my local Barnes and Noble and decided on Reinhart. Almost all of Silverton's recipes call for starters (not just pre-ferments), which I found a little intimidating. The Hamelman book is also very good. It has a lot of good recipes, is well organized, and has a great overview of the bread making process and technique, etc. But the Reinhart book is great in terms of pedagogy. It is very clear and the recipes are accessible. As a beginner I think it is perfect.

                  1. re: nomdeplume

                    I've been cooking for over six months with the Hamelman book, and I've really enjoyed it, but then I was looking for something quite indepth in terms of information and techniques. I've owned Silverton's book for longer, but I haven't baked anything from it (I found the Hamelman very crisp and well-laid out; not sure how I feel about Silverton's format) - although will try and change that this weekend. So, where do you think the Reinhart falls on the spectrum? Thanks!

                    1. re: Gooseberry

                      I'd say that if you have Hamelman, Reinhart won't offer you much except for some recipes and extra hand holding re technique, but it doesn't sound like you need that.

                2. Reinhart says his all-time favorite bread is the sourdough with walnuts and blue cheese added. The proportions are given in the notes on page 235. He's right, it's wonderful!!

                  1. I have made the pain a l'ancienne a few times now. It is very straightforward and gives delicious bread. You can use this dough for baguettes, ciabatta and pizza bases. I found the baguettes and ciabatta turned out really well. As another post has already mentioned the pizza base using this method is very stretchy - which means it can become too thin very easily - I also found it sort of soggy in the middle - possibly a combo of thin dough and not hot enough oven?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jendolan

                      I use a pizza stone, and heat the oven to at least 500 degrees. I haven't had any problem with the pan a l'ancienne dough being too thin or soggy. I usually let the dough rest about ten minutes when it starts to rebound while stretching for crust, then continue, which seems to work. It also helps to use your fingers with the dough flat on the counter, in combination with stretching it over your fists.

                    2. Anecdote. I have been pestering my 15 year-old daughter to let me teach her how to cook. Being a teenager she responds, "sure dad", and goes back online. I made her the biscuit recipe from "Crust and Crumb", wherein Peter incorporates puff pastry techniques into traditional Southern baking powder biscuits resulting in a sinfully delicious end product. She bit into the first one, dripping with butter and honey, looked at me and said, "Daddy you have to teach me to cook, because I'll never eat like this again once I leave home."

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ebethsdad

                        That sounds great. I just did a search for the recipe--is this the one? With that recommendation, I have to try it.