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reinhart bread books?

I bake a fair bit but have never really made bread, and I'd like to get a comprehensive but accessible cookbook on the topic. I've been dithering between Peter Reinhart's 'Artisan Breads Every Day' and 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice' - does anyone have a recommendation? thanks!

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  1. I can only speak to the "bread baker's apprentice." I love this book. When I got tired of the "no knead" bread, I purchased this book and we have enjoyed almost every single bread I have made. The first 1/3 of the book is a fairly intensive tutorial about the science and art of bread baking, while the remaining portion of the book is formulas.

    Can you take both out of the library to discover which of these two books is right for you?

    1. Both books have very good pictures and information. One comment I read about Artisan Breads Every Day called it Bread Baker's Apprentice "lite". You might want to go to the bookstore and compare the two.
      Just be aware that many of Peter Reinhart's bread recipes require multiple days (start on one day and finish the next). So if you are looking for a book for bread recipes that you can make in a day, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.
      Personally, I passed on Bread Baker's Apprentice and got the new book. I had hoped to bake at least one batch of bread while I was off work for the holidays, but unfortunately got sick with an intestinal "flu".
      FYI - Peter Reinhart is doing a US book tour with demos to promote this latest book (tour schedule is listed in his blog). I'm registered to see him in March when he comes to the SF Bay area.

      1. I have been baking from the Artisan breads everyday book for about a month now . It's not nearly as comprehensive as the Bread Bakers apprentice but it has all the important info a novice baker needs to mix, proof, shape and bake really delicious breads. I'd say start with this one and move on to the Bread Bakers Apprentice when you've mastered the basics. Here's a shot of todays loaf , pain au levain, It was delicious and my favorite recipe for this type of bread so far .

        3 Replies
        1. re: Saltygal

          Those are beautiful Saltygal. I love how your boule sits up so high and plump . . . mine do not always (grumble grumble). Now I'm tempted to get one of his books.

          1. re: Saltygal

            What are the advantages of the peel? Just a better slide? Do you use parchment with everything, bread and pizza?

            Edit: I was replying to Chowser and her/his comment about the peel. For some reason it inserted itself here.

            1. re: cinnamon girl

              Yes, it's the ease of the slide and it's manageable with one hand. With a cookie sheet, I thought it was heavy and hard to hold in one hand. I use it with everything I need to slide onto a hot stone. It also makes removal easy. Hold the little lip of parchment with one hand, slide the peel in with the other.

          2. I expect to encounter some disagreement here, but I don't think any of Reinhart's books would be considered 'cookbooks,' nor would I consider them in any way 'comprehensive.' They're phenomenal reads and incredibly motivational, but the recipes/technical information is few and far between. You don't read Reinhart for the recipes, you read it for his ability to draw you into a culinary universe in such a way that you can literally smell the bread coming out of the oven as you're reading about it. Reinhart is practically untouchable when it comes to food writing, but, as a cookbook writer... eh.

            If you want a thrilling read, buy Apprentice. If you want solid recipes and technical info, I'd go elsewhere. As far as I know, there is no 'comprehensive' book on bread baking, but I would say that Shirley Corriher's Bakewise is pretty 'meaty.' Harold McGee has a pretty hefty chapter on the subject in On Food and Cooking. That will give you a glimpse into the science of bread. For recipes, Amy's bread cookbook stands out.


            At least, it does for sourdoughs.

            If you really want to learn how to make bread, though, just start making bread. Even though I've read 60 or so books on breadmaking, that knowledge only adds up to about 15% of my total understanding of the process. I've probably picked up another 10% from online sources such as forums like these. The bulk of my knowledge, though, 75% of everything I've learned, has been from hands on experience.

            P.S. I forgot videos. There's some amazing videos out there on breadmaking for commercial bakeries.

            4 Replies
            1. re: scott123

              I have the "Artisan book". I was a bit disappointed in the brief content and would have preferred "Apprentice" for the depth. I do like Peter's style of writing though.

              Rose Levy Beranbaum has a highly recommended Bread Bible and an excellent forum and blog to accompany it. It is like a hands on study guide - very useful as you sort out any problems. All her recipes have been thoroughly tested.

              She has a free excellent beginners guide on Epicurious. - How to make bread.


              Frankly you can gather an enormous amount of info on-line. Fresh Loaf , Reinhart's own blog etc.


              1. re: Mistral

                I found the recipes in Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible very involved, "fussy", and rather complicated for my tastes. (That's the advantage of checking the books out from the library to decide if you want to add them to your own collection.)
                Another option to learn more about breadmaking is to see if there are any local classes in your area to get some hands on experience with someone to guide you. It may be just enough to give you the confidence to try more on your own.

              2. re: scott123

                I stand second to none in my admiration for Reinhart as a teacher, baker or person -- he is a kind, wonderful man who has made his dedication to a life of excellence into a career that has opened portals to American bakers who once thought "bread" meant any alternative to Wonder Bread. But I agree with you that for a beginner there are many more accessible and useful cookbooks.

                Daniel Lederer is another pioneer who has important stuff to share with people who are past the basics and moving on to perfecting incredible bread that can be reliably produced from day to day. Probably vital to someone who wants to operate a bakery but daunting and, frankly, boring for the rest of us to fixate on the temperature of everything! We can better enjoy an organic process and rely on flour's and yeast's obsessive *wish* to *be* bread -- whether it's flat bread or fine crumbed bread or any variation thereof.

                I think the most important thing to start with is a certain knowledge that something "bread" will happen; that the ingredients are cheap, available & expendable; that it will be a delightful, sensuous & rewarding process and to *do* it in the least intimidating or confusing way possible.

                I think a beginner would get started well if they went to the King Arthur site and started using one of their recipes every week. Those are written for all bakers, have tremendous variety and are thoroughly tested to give great results. PLUS -- and this should never be underestimated as a service -- KA bakers are available by phone for an instantaneous expert personal consultation if questions arise. This is an excellent recipe based on pre-ferment and yet it can still be done in a bread machine. It can be done without a bread machine. It can be baked in a hot enclosed pot Jim Lahey style. And you can make additions and substitutions as you can for all recipes. The point is, you bake and you read and you learn and you bring everything you've learned into each loaf however you do it. Anyway, try this. It's excellent: and it's indicative of the wealth of baking recipes on that site: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

                1. re: rainey

                  that looks like a fantastic resource, thanks for mentioning it!

              3. First of all , let me clarify one point. Bread is created using a formula, it is not prepared from a "recipe". That's because the variables in bread making (type of flour, ambient temperatures, handling of the dough) are not a "mix and pour" process.
                It doesn't matter which formula you work with, if you don't understand what's happening in the process you will never recognize where and why problems might develop with your finished bread.
                First, join the group at: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/ forum.
                Then, of the two books you listed, I'd recommend you start with "The Bread Bakers Apprentice" and work through it, making each of the breads included in the book at least once. Then, buy the "Artisan Breads Every Day"' and do the same thing.
                By the time you've finished you'll be a very good bread maker ... guaranteed

                1 Reply
                1. re: todao

                  Thanks for that link. It's now bookmarked.

                  I agree: it's important not to think so much in terms of recipes. A great bread book may not have the slickest recipes; but it will teach you something of the process and basic materials.

                2. I haven't used Artisan Breads, but I have Apprentice as well as Crust and Crumb. I don't use Crust and Crumb much, but Apprentice does a great job teaching bread making and is the kind of cookbook that gives you the confidence to make any bread recipe after a while. I would read through Apprentice before making anything. There is a lot of information, and bread can't really be made from an exact formula so it is helpful to know about the different variables.

                  When I first started making bread I kept making the same recipe until it turned out exactly like I wanted it. I really got a good feel for the dough and how it should look, stretch etc. Also, don't be too intimidated. Unless bread is very burnt or undercooked (or you forget the salt) even flawed homemade bread is good. Have fun!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: corneygirl

                    I soooo much agree with your final point. If you survey the world's breads you can see that there are many ideas of what bread *is*. And they're all valid and valuable. So "Unless bread is very burnt or undercooked" you just readjust your thinking of what it was meant to be, learn from the experience and enjoy it!

                    BTW, Tuscan bread, by tradition, is unsalted. Has to do with an argument about taxation they still haven't completely gotten over. ;>

                  2. thanks so much for the input everyone, this was my first post to chowhound and I'm so grateful for the response! I think I'll go with some of the websites that were mentioned to start out with, and once I've gained a little confidence I'll hopefully have a better idea of what I'm looking for.

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: onecaketwocake

                      I borrowed BBA from the library and it intimidated me. I read maybe 5 pages. I've made about 15 loafs, 8 different bread recipes from other sources so far and still felt overwhelmed.
                      I got Artisan Breads Every Day for XMAS and am on page 10. I am looking forward to getting thru the rest. Whether its the size (only 1/3 of BAA) or P.R. making it simpler and easier than all his other books, as he claims, I know I'll get it.

                      1. re: saraugie

                        So I am on page 20 in Artisan Breads Every Day, but felt like jumping into making a 'formula"
                        I've got 100% Whole Wheat Hearth Bread, in the fridge for over night and will bake tomorrow.
                        So far, the directions were clear, easy and the dough came out exactly as described.
                        The part I am most apprehensive about is, what method I will use to slide the bread onto the hearth stone and will it succeed? I've made 4 pizzas and have not gotten a smooth slide yet. Stay tuned.

                        1. re: saraugie

                          You can use a cookie sheet (turned upside down if it has sides). Sprinkle generously with cornmeal -- or I prefer semolina because it's fine enough to cook away but the cornmeal is larger and gives you more skidding BBs effect so start with cornmeal and graduate to semolina -- before you put the dough down. Then just place the cookie sheet just beyond where you want your dough to land and with a stout heart and absolute conviction, give the cookie sheet a sharp pull out from under the dough. The motion is from your shoulder with the elbow bending backward to get out of the way. The dough will move back slightly before the cookie sheet is gone and will allow the bread to go straight down.

                          OR form your boule/batard/whatever directly on a silicone mat or sheet of parchment and place that exactly where you want it to be.

                          1. re: rainey

                            Question, just so I'm clear. In his writing he mentions having parchment paper underneath the bread, on top of the cookie sheet during the last rise. When transferring to the stone, does the parchment stay with the bread?
                            I've used parchment paper aplenty, but never at 500F and I would think it would burn.
                            Plus does he want direct contact with the bread on top of the stone.

                            Many thanks for the help !!!!

                            1. re: saraugie

                              Yes. The paper stays with the dough until the bread is baked.

                              The free edges are going to burn very brown. But they will not catch on fire and it will hold together nicely. The portion of the paper that's under the dough and in direct contact with it will remain unburned. It's insulated by the dough and the moisture it will give off during baking.

                              The paper will already be released from the paper when the bread's done. You will throw the parchment out but it will have done it's job of moving the dough without disturbing the skin.

                              You would use a silicone mat the same way but it will be unaffected by the high temps.

                              If you get brave and decide to do just wet dough on cornmeal you'll be done with it entirely by the time you get the dough loaded on the stone. You can start with something small -- but not too small; you *need* some weight so the mass is stable -- and reshape it and let it rise again if it doesn't hit it's mark. And if it's not the greatest loaf of bread you've ever made you will still have learned a freeing skill. When you're ready.

                              1. re: saraugie

                                Adding that if you do your dough on parchment you can still use the cookie sheet to transfer it. You just won't need the "movement". Just use your other hand to pull/slide the paper where you want it.

                                1. re: rainey

                                  I used to use a cookie sheet but picked up a pizza peel for $5 at Ross. It's one of the best $5 investment I've made. The cookie sheet didn't work nearly as well. I also use parchment paper, but trim it to 1-2" beyond the dough. I just leave one edge a little longer as a handle to pull it in. It's great for making multiple pizzas, just make them all on individual parchment sheets.

                                  1. re: rainey

                                    Gulp, I went with regular flouring and cornmeal on my handy dandy pizza peel, which I have never used before. :) Its got that slider thing, but it needs to washed first so I did not use it.
                                    From the shoulder and confident strong but not too strong woosh! all body parts crossed.
                                    Two hours left to the final rise to go.

                                    1. re: saraugie

                                      How exciting for you! Make sure to preheat the oven well before the final rise is done. Have a spatula ready near the oven in case the dough sticks a bit [my first attempts at a wet dough sure did!] and the water bottle filled and ready to go.

                                      Pretend that you feel confident when transferring the dough. It is surprising how much energy you can use to send the dough into the oven before affecting the rise.

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        Went in almost perfectly. I was NOT prepared for the difference in having a 500f oven and hot water to do the steam thing! But all is good its in now and should be on the rack cooling in a 1/2 hour. SM thanks a lot for walking me thru it.

                                        1. re: saraugie

                                          Here it is done. It smells heavenly. I can see that there are nice air pockets inside.
                                          I will slice it in about an hour. I need to make bread crumbs out of some for a sausage/prune dressing I'm making. Can't wait to make the next type of bread from the book !

                                          1. re: saraugie

                                            Don't rush cutting it! When you do you allow all the moisture to evacuate as steam if it hasn't cooled off and redistributed throughout the crumb.

                                            So glad you had a great result! It's really intoxicating, isn't it, to make your own bread!

                                            1. re: rainey

                                              "It's really intoxicating, isn't it, to make your own bread!"
                                              It certainly is.....I did wait, got a few holes but not as many as I should have, I think.
                                              The taste is good and will be better once I start using traditional Whole Wheat instead of the whit whole wheat I have.

                          2. re: onecaketwocake

                            I agree that the Bread Baker's Apprentice can be intimidating--I didn't use it for the first year we had it. I started w/ the basic recipes from the Best Recipe, which are pretty dummyproof and in some cases quick. I also have played w/ the NYT variations on no need bread. Only after I felt comfortable with those did I graduate to Reinhart.

                            1. re: sholli

                              I've been baking bread for 40 years. The interest in the last 10 years and the new technologies in the last couple years are amazing! ...for a tradition that's *thousands* of years old, no less. If I didn't have a good foundation and if I weren't ready for all the new and revolutionary information I think it would be very intimidating. And I think your route makes great sense!

                              I hope *everyone* exposes themselves to Reinhart and all he has to offer. I hope you all find some opportunity to take a class with him and meet the whole person even more! He's fantastic! But I also think all he has worked out over 40 years or so will make much more sense when a baker has some basic simple loaves of conventional bread under their belt and feels ready to learn more. ...for *most* home cooks, that is. Kudos to anyone ready to start at the top!

                          3. Hi:

                            The book to buy...the bread book to end all bread books is: BREAD by Master Baker Jeffrey Hamelman.

                            Adagio Bakery & Cafe
                            email: adagiobakery@gmail.com