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Bread Book?

I'm not a baker. I'm terrible at baking. I want to change this. I'd like to start with bread.

I'm looking for suggestions for my first bread baking book. Something that will not feel overwhelming or pretentious or require funky bread-specific gadgets and industrial gear. I'm getting an oven thermometer, a gram scale, and I've found a local source for some starters. I have a stand mixer.

I need a book.

Please :)

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  1. The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart has some recipes that are great for a beginner. There are some recipes that are kind of fussy, but there are quite a few that are just really good basic recipes. He has a lot of bread baking theory in his books, which is helpful for understanding the 'why'.....

    45 Replies
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      I agree. He explains everything in simple steps, and what's happening at each step. Even if you just read the first chapters, before the recipes, you'll learn a lot. And, the recipes are do-able, with nice pictures to help along the way. Easily, the most helpful bread book I've read.

      1. re: jeanmarieok

        I third this recommendation. I too am not a baker, but Peter Reinhart has put together an amazing detailed book that breaks it down step by step. Not only that but he explains the science of baking, which has helped me better understand the process.

        That said if you're truly a novice I would suggest you try Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day - the recipe is ridiculously easy and produces a great loaf. Another option is the No-Knead Bread recipe. Again, very good but for me, just a tad more difficult than the first-mentioned recipe. Do a search here, there are several threads on both.

        1. re: lynnlato

          I forgot to mention - MAKE THE MONKEY BREAD! (in Reinhart's book)

          1. re: lynnlato

            I second the recommendation for Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It makes bread making really easy, allows experimentation and lets you get a feel for bread baking without complication.

            Or go to the originator of the no-knead bread, Jim Leahy, who just published a book, My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. His no-knead bread finally made me a bread baker after many years of trying with terrible-to-middling results.

            Bread baking can be frustrating...while Bread Baker's Apprentice (or The Bread Bible) will teach you the ins and outs of bread baking, they may frustrate you (as they did me). I find that once I got some great results with the Leahy method, I had the confidence, patience and understanding to tackle the traditional recipes in these standard bread books.

            1. re: Divamac

              Aha, this is it. More than a book, I need confidence, patience, and understanding. I like your approach and very relevant advice.

              1. re: globalgourmand

                Divamac gave good advice. Get your feet wet with the no-knead recipe, and then buy The Bread Bakers Apprentice. You don't need to buy Leahy's book, the No-Knead recipe is published on here and on many, many blogs.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  Ah, I see-- I'll try it this week. Thanks!

          2. re: jeanmarieok

            Wow, after four recommendations, I'm very encouraged. I like the idea of simple steps and good pictures. I feel optimistic about this, thank you!

            1. re: globalgourmand

              I've been in the kitchen for over fifty years. Allow me to be the fifth one to recommend Peter Reihnart's - The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Where most of the basic bread making books I've read do teach you how to make bread, none that I've read can teach you to make rather sophisticated breads (some simple ones also) in as short a time as The Bread Baker's Apprentice.
              Also, keep in mind that "bread" flour (many different varieties) will produce a nice loaf of bread but you can make perfectly scrumptious bread with all purpose flour (even bleached all purpose flour) so you don't have to spend big bucks on designer model bags of wheat flour.
              While your at it, log on to http://www.thefreshloaf.com/

            2. re: jeanmarieok

              Are the Bread Baker's Apprentice recipes written with bakers percentages?

              1. re: rcspott

                Baker's percentages are included with every recipe.

              2. re: jeanmarieok

                I agree that this is a great book, but I found it daunting at first. I found it easier to start w/ the Best Recipe and no knead bread by way of the New York Times (I like Bittman's commentary on variations). Those three resources have been a great foundation, though.

                1. re: sholli

                  I found it daunting as well (and have been baking bread at least weekly for 30+ years). I would recommend Reinhart's Crust and Crumb as a less heavy-duty introduction to the art and science of breadbaking. Or the book I learned from, Beard on Bread. Jen Kalb's commonsense recommendations on where to start are spot on.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Beard on Bread was my first too. I still use the recipe for his buttermilk bread and the English muffin bread.

                    I'm making the buttermilk bread tomorrow in a double braid free form loaf to use for our Thanksgiving leftover feast of turkey sandwiches.

                    1. re: rainey

                      The overnight free-form bread that uses buttermilk is extremely good, and the twisted sweet rolls that you raise in a basin of warm water are sublime (the directions say to wrap the dough in a tea towel, a ziplock bag well sealed works well and is much...less...messy). Also love Mrs Elizabeth Ovenstad's bread.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Is that overnight buttermilk bread from Beard on Bread? And is it a refrigerated dough? What does it turn out like?

                        I used to have the Beard book and loved it. I think I may have gotten rid of it recently (just too many books). And now I'm regretting that.

                        1. re: karykat

                          The book just refers to it as Buttermilk White Bread. I don't see an "overnight" in the index and I don't see any other buttermilk bread.

                          I've let it raise overnight in the fridge. I've done it a host of different way -- rolls, machine bread, freeform bread, braided loaves, baked with herbs for my stuffing bread. Always comes out with great flavor. Great as sandwich bread and great as toast.

                          Interestingly, the first time I made it I made it from a recipe that was in the W-S catalogue. They doubled it and pictured a lovely double braided loaf. That was when the W-S catalogue provided wonderful recipes that were for cooking instead of promoting products. Back then, W-S carried actually useful and essential cooking equipment too.

                          1. re: rainey

                            Just to be sure I'm tracking, you use the Beard buttermilk white bread recipe and let it rise overnight in the fridge?

                            It sounds good.

                            1. re: karykat

                              Yes. You can rise any dough in the fridge overnight. The rise will be extremely slow which is to say that a lot more flavor develops AND you can make the timing fit your life and convenience. In the morning it may not be completely risen but you'll need to take it out for a couple hours to come back up to room temp anyway, so it will finish over that time.

                              Just be sure to oil (or butter) the surface of your dough. Even if it's shaped and in its cooking vessel. And to cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Then I put a tent of aluminum foil over that and crimp the edges to the bowl or pan or whatever so that the skin of the dough will stay moist.

                              Bake conventionally when it's fully risen and at room temp.

                          2. re: karykat

                            The one I'm referring to is the the free-form white loaf, which I believe has buttermilk in it, and the sponge is refrigerated overnight. Will review the recipe and confirm.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              The one that I use from "Beard on Bread" has a counter-top proofing of the yeast but not an overnight pre-ferment. Altho a pre-ferment ALWAYS improves anything. And it can be done with any recipe whether specified by the recipe author or improvised by the cook which was the revelation I got from "Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine".

                              Here's the Buttermilk White Bread recipe from "Beard on Bread". The amounts in parentheses are doubled amounts from that W-S catalogue recipe. I've rewritten the method myself so as not to violate copyright infringements.

                              • 2 packages yeast, (2 pkg)
                              • 1 tablespoon sugar, (1 1/2 tbs)
                              • ½ cup warm water, (1 cup)
                              • 4 cup unbleached hard wheat flour, (8 cups)
                              • 1 tablespoon salt , (1 1/2 tbs)
                              • 3 tablespoon melted butter, (6 tbs)
                              • 1 to 1 ½ cup buttermilk, (2 to 3 cups)

                              Combine the yeast, sugar, water and 1/4 (1/2) cup flour and allow to proof.

                              Add remaining ingredients to sponge and process on "Dough" cycle.

                              Place in buttered bread pan(s), hand form loaf(ves) or shape rolls. Bake in a 375˚ oven for approximately 40 minutes for bread or 18 to 20 minutes for rolls.

                              For a soft crust, brush with melted butter when removed from oven. Place a tea towel over and allow to cool in the retained steam.

                              My notes:
                              • Does NOT require a bread machine.
                              • I proof that sponge in the bucket of my bread maker overnight.
                              • Works well with the substitution of white whole wheat flour for part of the unbleached flour.
                              • Using all-purpose or part all-purpose flour results in a more tender loaf.

                              1. re: rainey

                                do you really need to double the yeast on this?

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  I wouldn't. That's the one fault I find with BoB, recipes call for too much yeast (easily reducd, of course) - but maybe active dry yeast wasn't quite as reliable in the 70's, and certainly instant yeast was not available at least to home bakers.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    "certainly instant yeast was not available at least to home bakers."

                                    you sure? I was using it late 70's. Red Star or Fleichsmans don't remember.

                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                      Hmm, don't remember exactly when I first saw it. Beard on Bread came out in 1973, don't think it was available then.

                                  2. re: jen kalb

                                    No. Good catch.

                                    When you have enough for a healthy sponge you've got enough.

                                  3. re: rainey

                                    I love the idea of proofing the sponge in the bread maker and then having it mix the next day. Do you use the bread maker to mix the sponge, and then turn it off? The next day just add the ingredients in the bread machine recommended order? You add all the yeast to the sponge, and don't reserve any of it for the rest? I agree it seems like a lot of yeast. Plus, as Reinhart uses, I'd be tempted to use instant yeast and cut back by as much as 1/4-1/2 tsp instant with the long rise.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Yes. Construct and ferment the sponge in the bread machine (or, of course, in a bowl by hand, same deal). Then continue with the remaining ingredients.

                                      It IS a lot of yeast. This is a recipe that was written by Beard back in the early 70s. At the time the idea of a pre-ferment was, to the best of my knowledge, virtually unknown or unpracticed here. In fact, Beard's recipe is not really a sponge -- there's too little flour -- it was just a "proofing" of the yeast that verified the liveliness and was accomplished in 15 or 20 minutes. ...but you can make it a sponge by adding more flour and providing more nutrition for the yeast. If a sponge is what you want skip the salt and sugar and add them with the other ingredients.

                                      Now we have a much more vigorous, informed and "traditional" methods -- in the sense of adopting the long and distinguished methods of European breadmakers . Now we know how little yeast is required to turn flour, sugar, water and yeast into a microbial factory that not only has sufficient leavening properties but develops a wealth of alcohols and sugars that provide far richer flavor than mere commercial yeast.

                                      I provided the recipe for the purposes of clarifying whether or not we were referring to the same one. My advice with bread is always read it, try it, bring every skill and fancy you've acquired into doing it as you see fit. Bread is a remarkable and versatile thing. When you've got flour, sugar, water and yeast a miracle happens; after that you've got complete license to make it your own!

                                      I have made Beard's buttermilk loaf for decades and it's excellent as he wrote it. I've also modified it greatly over the decades and I like that too. Bread; it's an infinity in itself.

                                      1. re: rainey

                                        I was thinking, actually, more in terms of technique than the recipe. For sponges, and the like, I've always used the stand mixer or done it by hand. But, this opens a new method by using the bread machine also. I only use the bread machine for dough w/out a starter but this opens a lot of different possibilities.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Yup! This was my particular revelation from "Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine" back in the 90s. They treated the bread machine like a tool rather than a stand-alone appliance. And they put it in service of a whole tradition of pre-ferments that produced wonderful doughs that were as effortless as no-knead bread is now. The doughs, of course, deserving no less, were hand shaped and baked on stones to yield the kinds of breads that few home bakers were then accomplishing.

                                          Their (Linda West Eckhardt and Kaina Collingwood Butts) recipes are excellent (that's where I was first introduced to Peter Reinhart) and their method is still highly useful. It's an excellent bread book and why it hasn't gotten the attention it deserves I'll never know!

                                          Tell you one more hint from that book that I've loved: if your dough doesn't have eggs or dairy there's nothing that will spoil. DON'T wash out your bread bucket. It becomes a little laboratory of wild yeasts that are just waiting to go to work on your next dough. They will stay in suspended animation when they dry in the same way that commercial yeast does.

                                          All these little things add up to why we now make bread with a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast at a time instead of 2 packages! ;>

                                          1. re: rainey

                                            I'll have to look for that book. Rose Levy Berenbaum also covers it in the Bread Bible but I found it more complicated than using the stand mixer or doing by hand so never gave it a try. Good hint about not washing the bucket. I do use egg and milk in lot of the bread maker recipes because I don't do the long rises. Or, at least I haven't yet (but will be giving it a try!).

                                        2. re: rainey

                                          Tassajara Bread Book used sponges--it came out in the mid 70's and was wildly popular with the Whole Earth Catalog crowd on the West Coast.

                                          1. re: toodie jane

                                            Yeah. But it took some of us a lot longer to catch on. And that included a lot of the people publishing books and magazines. ;>

                                          2. re: rainey

                                            The George Lang Hungarian potato bread - one of the best in the book - calls for a (short rising time) sponge.

                                        3. re: rainey

                                          Now I'm really confused. This is from Beard on Bread, right? The really pretty old book? But when it says, "process on dough cycle" does that mean in a bread maker? I didn't think Beard used any of those newfangled devices back in the olden days whenhe wrote the book?

                                          1. re: karykat

                                            Sorry for the confusion. Yes, it's the recipe -- at least the ingredients & proportions -- verbatim from "Beard on Bread". In parentheses are the proportions from the Williams-Sonoma version that W-S published in one of their early catalogues. I became acquainted with "Beard on Bread" from the W-S version.

                                            What I've copied in above is from my recipe database. It has the method I used when I began compiling the DB. I just copied that in because I've had CH pull recipes when they were from copyrighted material. And the method and results are little changed one way or the other whether prepared by hand, with a mixer or with a bread machine.

                                            Hope that makes it more clear. You're right. The book is from '78 and it predated bread machines in the US by a good 6 years or so.

                                            1. re: rainey

                                              Great. Thanks for this. It all makes sense now.

                                              1. re: rainey

                                                Original pub date was 1973, I have a first edition (my mom gave it to me).

                                2. re: sholli

                                  Every bread I've made from the Best Recipe has been excellent. If someone were only interested in basic recipes and not so much the details, I'd recommend that one. From focaccia to rustic bread to sandwich bread, they're all reliable.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipes or?

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      Yes, Cooks Illustrated's Best Recipe. Mine is a few years old so maybe they've updated the recipes, as they've done for the magazine. So, mine might not even be the best Best Recipe.;-)

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        I have that one, have read throughh it, but almost never cooked from it. Good to know about the bread recipes. There's a new New Best Recipe book out this year - those people get more mileage out of their recipes than any other outfit I know of!

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          Everything I've made from it has been very good. The "best"? Maybe not, eg for the longest time my favorite ccc cookie recipe was their big and chewy chocolate chip cookies. But having discovered the NYT version of Jacques Torres's cookies, it doesn't compare. The NYT version is much more fussy, though, and might not appeal to the average home cook (I don't know many people IRL who have both bread flour and cake and are willing to chop their own chocolate chunks). I think they give the "best" recipe for what the average home cook will do. However, I made a few loaves of bread for a taste test a few years ago and their rustic bread came out on top, fwiw.

                                      2. re: buttertart

                                        I have the original Best Recipe, not the new expanded one, and its bread recipes are a great jumping off point. I particularly love the oatmeal variation on their white sandwich loaf (both freezes and toasts beautifully) and their whole wheat. Not crazy elegant or wildly creative, but those two recipes gave me the confidence to graduate to more ambitious efforts.

                                        1. re: sholli

                                          Have to have another look. I am indeed of the party which always has bread, cake, and AP flour among others on hand!

                                3. I love making bread. Been doing it for 40 years.

                                  If you're just staring out what I would do is google "no knead bread". You won't need any sophisticated equipment tho I highly recommend the Emile Henry large Flame tagine for baking it in. It greatly simplifies loading the wet dough into a very, very hot container. And it doubles as an *awesome* braiser.

                                  Or go to the King Arthur site. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe... They have a recipe for everything and a hotline you can call for questions and advice. You'd still want a baking stone or the tagine. I particularly recommend their recipe called "In Search of the Perfect Rustic Loaf". http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe... It will teach you how to effortlessly do a pre-ferment and turn it into a loaf like the famous Poilaîne bread of Paris. I think it may be written as a bread machine recipe but anything you can do in a bread machine you can do with your stand mixer or by hand and everything you can do by hand or with your stand mixer you can do with a bread machine. For this you would also want a baking stone or the tagine.

                                  Also for easy beginner stuff that will give you impressive results I'd recommend the cookbook "Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine". http://www.breadmachinedigest.com/rev... It will give you a great overview of bread traditions, a variety of pre-ferments (don't be intimidated; they're easy and make bread extraordinary), and teach you all you need to know.

                                  When you get serious about bread making any of Peter Reinhart's books would be a good place to go. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/bookrevie... He gets technical but NO ONE knows more about bread than he does and you can write to him and ask questions. He's a *wonderful* human being.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: rainey

                                    Rainey, thanks for these tips. 40 years, fantastic! I do have nice baking stone I picked up at a garage sale already, so I'll probably start there.

                                    1. re: globalgourmand

                                      its so much easier than that. Take a simple book, a simple recipe and make the bread. Beard is good, as is Reinhart (he has several books out.)
                                      Just about any book. Pick a simple recipe for white bread with few ingredients. Get some nice fresh yeast (check the date) start it in lukewarm water (NOT hot, that will kill it) - even just watching the yeast develop with a littel sugar in that warm water is very satisfying. Pick a recipe with some kneading, that is the most fun part, so satisfying to actually put your hands on the dough and feel it grow and get silky textured and alive under your touch. After you get a feel for the simple process of making bread, you can move on to overnight rises, starters, etc.

                                        1. re: globalgourmand

                                          Depends on how much time you have... Cold water won't kill yeast but the yeast won't start dividing (and doing its job) until it gets warm. I'm a big fan of the deep flavor inherent in slow-risen loaves, but think it might be frustrating if you're looking for a rise in a coupla hours.

                                  2. If it is your first bread book, I don't think it is critical which book you get. Take a look at a book shop or library and see what might be useful to you. Some people need photos. Others like detailed instructions with the explanations of why, and some want bare bones recipes. There are many good books out by Reinhart, Glezer, Hamelman, Beranbaum, Leader, Bertinet, Leonard, Ortega, Robinson and others. Plus the more specialized books on no-knead breads. Don't fret over which one you choose. Just start with a basic recipe. If you like to work from a theoretical point of view, look for Baker's Percentages in the index. It's a great handle on the way ingredients are combined, and most of the books mentioned above will give you that information. Then have fun.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                      Father Kitchen, this is a good suggestion but it sounds like the Reinhart book might work very well for me. I will use this tip on the baker's percentages-- I think it will help me build confidence.

                                      One of my biggest struggles has always been sticking to baking recipes. I always tend to sub one flour for another (I've got at least 6 in my freezer,) or change the fat or salt, or use extra leavening, or add herbs... I zig when I should zag... Its my fault-- I'm so accustomed to my pinch-by-pinch ways at the stovetop... I need some baking discipline. And confidence. I never know if the dough is too wet or too dry, or if the water is the right temperature for the yeast. And what do I do with these failed attempts? But as you said, have fun. That is, after all, why I love cooking, right?

                                      Great input, thanks!

                                      1. re: globalgourmand

                                        I'm not a slave to recipes myself, but I think it is a good idea to understand why things work or don't work. If you work within the standard ranges of hydration by baker's percentages, even if humidity skews the results, you will get a dough that is good, even if it wasn't quite what you expected. Keep notes and you will learn quickly. I've rarely seen something that was useless--only once when I forgot to add the yeast. Even a dense loaf can be sliced thin and toasted and used for appetizers or ground up and used for bread crumbs. (And you can incorporate bread crumbs in new loaves--it's an old technique, though not done often today.) But be careful about changes in fat or salt or in using extra leavening. You are touching on the basic architecture of the loaf. Get a good basic loaf and then move from the familiar to the unfamiliar to adventures. It's no harder than making a good poached egg. It just takes a little longer.

                                        1. re: Father Kitchen

                                          Like two or three days! (I tease!)

                                          No, I'm ready to test the bounds of my patience for very rewarding results. If I'm ever to have a child, I better be able to wait a couple days for a good bread!

                                          And on your recommendation, I may have found a simple book that might suit me while browsing online. Still, I assure you I'll be at the bookstore tomorrow, thumbing through many of your fine suggestions.

                                        2. re: globalgourmand

                                          That's the wonderful thing about bread. It's found in every culture and the variations that occur when you put flour, water, yeast and salt together are endless.

                                          Substitute wildly and with confidence. If you don't get a high loaf you've got a flatbread. If you don't get a lot of rise you have a dense loaf like Eastern European pumpkernickles and whole grains. If you've got big irregular holes you've make something along the lines of a ciabatta. If you get tight, regular holes then you've made something more like a Pullman loaf. But, whatever you end up with, you've got the great smell of baking bread, wonderful flavor and the joy of handling dough that's a pleasure to all the senses. Bread is the essence of Julia Child's sage advice: "No appologies; no explanations."

                                          The most important thing to keep in mind is NEVER RUSH DOUGH. Don't make it by the clock and trying to do anything fast will cheat you of flavor.

                                          1. re: rainey

                                            "Bread is the essence of Julia Child's sage advice: "No apologies; no explanations."

                                            This is wonderful advice I have rarely followed. It will be my new kitchen motto. I'm so encouraged! THANK YOU!

                                          2. re: globalgourmand

                                            That advantage of Reinhart's book, to me, is that with the explanations, you learn why you're doing what you are so if you want to substitute one flour for another or whatever changes, you know what you're doing and not just haphazardly experimenting (which is also fun). As Todao said, you don't need bread flour to make good bread. If you use AP flour, you just have to knead more to develop the gluten. I'm a salt holic and always increase salt but learned that too much can kill the yeast in which case, order can matter in adding ingredients. Bread is really forgiving. It might not always be what the "perfect" loaf should be but it's always good out of your own oven.

                                            I used to be able to find BBA in the libaray until the Washington Post wrote about it and not it's never there. I found Crust and Crumb (another Reinhart book) and Rose Levy Berenbaum's Bread Bible at the library so you might be able to check them out before buying. And, I found BBA on overstock.com for a much better price than at the store.

                                        3. I'll third the Bread Baker's Apprentice. It's what I settled on when I had the very same desire almost two years ago now. He gives you a thorough grounding on the basics and his recipes are very reliable. I had a real sense of accomplishment when I mastered some of them, and though I still have lots to learn, feel much more like a baker now. As I write this, I'm about to take a lovely whole wheat boule out of the oven, from his Whole Grain Breads book...

                                          Father Kitchen is also very wise in his response - almost any of the good baking books will make a good guide. I recommend picking one to start and working your way through a good number of the recipes until you get a feel for the dough, for kneading, for technique. Then branch out all over the place!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Andrew_Cookbooker

                                            Andrew, a Whole Grain Breads book too!? This is perfect also. I think one of many reasons I haven't done much baking (nevermind successfully) is because I'm don't feel great about using white flour. Of course, I love all good bread, but the thought of having well-tested whole grain-specific recipes is especially enticing. I tried several times to make good whole-wheat pizza dough before finally giving up and settling for the frozen or fresh whole wheat dough from Whole Foods.

                                            I an almost smell your whole wheat boule!

                                            1. re: globalgourmand

                                              His whole grains book is very interesting - he's developed some ways to get more out of whole wheat using things like soakers and pre-ferments. The boule I made is his Whole Wheat Hearth Bread. I made a soaker last night (just flour, water and salt left out at room temperature) and also a 'Biga', some dough with a little yeast, which ferments slowly overnight in the fridge. I used half 'Red Fife', which is a heritage grain starting to get more attention here in Canada, and half regular whole-wheat flour.

                                              Then today just a quick mix, a few minutes of kneading. 90 minutes total rising time, and baked on the stone in the oven. I let it go a little long, and it's darker than I usually make it, but still very edible. The crust gets quite nutty tasting. Here are a couple of pics.

                                               
                                               
                                              1. re: globalgourmand

                                                I just got Peter Reihnart's whole grain bread book and it is amazing. Fun to read and helpful with pics of each step. I have made the foccacia bread and his struan. great breads, not too difficult and i'm a novice bread baker. they came out really gorgeous and the flavor is wonderful; no bitterness, not too heavy and complex.
                                                I have Laurels whole grain bread book too. Lots of recipes and a different approach. i will use his methods with some of her ideas, like English muffins etc.

                                            2. First (before I tell you about the easy cheat way to make bread), I will say that I've been baking my own bread for about 30 years. There are LOTs of great bread baking books and most will help you feel confident and make a great loaf.

                                              But I dearly wish Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day had been around back when I started. What's not to love about gush-worthy bread that takes 10 minutes of active time if you move really really slow? People complain to me saying they can't go through as much bread as their recipes produce. Ahem? A little math and you can cut the dough in half.

                                              Here's a link to a pretty comprehensive article (with recipes):

                                              http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-F...

                                              (I make the 100% whole wheat sandwich bread to rave reviews.

                                              )

                                              No matter which reference you choose, have fun and take big bites!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: miss louella

                                                This sounds like a great place for me to start too! (Given my current lack of confidence and patience.)

                                                If you cut the recipe in half, should you also adjust baking time?

                                                1. re: globalgourmand

                                                  Not at all. The method has you mixing up a batch then putting it in the fridge after it rises and falls. When you're ready to bake a loaf, you get your hands wet, grab a handful (or two, depending on your hands and the size of loaf you want), form it, let rise, then bake. The dough is supposed to last/live for a week or two in your fridge. Though I always bake mine off LONG before that.

                                                  Read the article. It really IS that easy.

                                                  1. re: miss louella

                                                    Exactly. I bake a loaf nearly everyday. If there is some left, I usually slice it up and freeze it for croutons or breadcrumbs. You can make any size loaf you want though. My family loves the bread so much that I can hardly keep up with the demand.

                                                  2. re: globalgourmand

                                                    I agree on starting with the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I had to start baking all of our bread a year ago due to my daughter's food allergies. I was in a complete panic about being able to provide bread for my family and that book really saved me. I have also been making some rather boring/bland sandwich loaves and have been wanting to expand my offerings. After a year, I am consistently turning out excellent loaves from the Artisan Bread book every single time. I think I'll get the Bread Baker's Apprentice now. It probably would have frustrated me too much at the beginning. Good luck!

                                                2. I don't know what could be better than Lahey's "My Bread."

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    So many books. Some of the less theoretical oriented may be more down the line of people who just want recipes. Tom Jaine, and Collister and Blake have some fine ones out which contain plenty of pictures. Today, coming back from an H1N1 vaccination, I stopped into Border's. Andrew Whiteley's book "Bread Matters: the state of modern bread and a definitive guid to baking your own" caught my eye again. It looks like an excellent introduction to really good bread baking. It is now on my shelf next to Reinhart, Calvel, Ortega, Glezer, Bertinet, Beranbaum, Lahey, and Leonard. It's in good company.

                                                  2. I just picked up some AP white flour-- nearly non-existent from my kitchen for more than 5 years. After reading the evident enthusiasm and prowess of the above and future posters, I can hardly wait to get started.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: globalgourmand

                                                      "Artisan Bread in 5..." authors also have a new book just out "Healthy Bread In 5...."

                                                      It contains whole grain recipes, and also gluten-free recipes and discussions.

                                                      I too have a problem with eating so much bread so have designated the local firehouse as recipients of extra bread.

                                                      This method is very gratifying. Read their blog, too, and you'll pick up lots of tips along the way. http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

                                                      1. re: toodie jane

                                                        WOW! Awesome, Jane.

                                                        And I already have vital wheat gluten in the fridge! (Among teff flour, whole wheat flour, oat flour, spelt flour, 10 grain, garbanzo flour, buckwheat flour, yadda yadda yadda...) This is just perfect.

                                                        1. re: globalgourmand

                                                          King Arthur Flour (bread and general baking) and Peter Reinhart also have very good whole-grain books out.

                                                    2. Elizabeth David's "English Bread and Yeast Cookery" is good.

                                                      "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book" may be out of print, but the bread sections are terrific.

                                                      "Baking with Julia" is a bit like going after a fly with an elephant gun in this case, but I've made most of the bread recipes therein and they ALL WORK.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: jmckee

                                                        You know, I've got the Fannie Farmer that was the first cookbook I owned back in the late 60s. I've also got a score of more of specifically bread cookbooks. It never occurred to me to consult Fannie about bread.

                                                        I'm gonna go look and see what's in there. Thanks for the tip! ;>

                                                      2. I absolutely love (and have the original hardcover version of) Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Bread. I have made bagels, Southern biscuits, Hawaiian Banana Bread, French Bread and many, many others. The book is very clear in it's directions. It makes modifications for any type of equipment that you may have, giving essentially several versions of the same recipe using different methods, for the same result. It also tells you what temperature to use if you are using a convection oven or a conventional oven, dark pans, or regular pans, etc. It is a book that takes absolutely nothing at all for granted and is completely accommodating to the user. I highly recommend it as a first book because it does not make any unrealistic assumptions of the user's skills. I have also found it to be the most complete book of bread making I have seen on the shelves.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: koshermasterchef

                                                          The Clayton books are very good and very detailed - I have the original as well - the later editions have adaptations for the food processor etc. I particularly love his "The Breads of France" - everything I've made from it has been excellent , and a good number of the recipes are not available anywhere else.

                                                        2. Hi:

                                                          After reviewing ALL of them, the only book you need is: BREAD by Master Baker Jeffrey Hamelman.

                                                          This is written for professionals as well as home bakers.

                                                          Regards,
                                                          Ralph
                                                          Adagio Bakery & Cafe
                                                          email: adagiobakery@gmail.com

                                                          1. Its a bit late to reply never the less:
                                                            Artisans Bread Every Day by Peter Reinhart is the way to go. Its much easier to read and understand than his BBA and its his newest release. For other recipes, (I just 10 minutes ago bought also) Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman. Those are the two. I bought other books and would return them if I could.