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Jan 2, 2010 02:20 PM

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:

                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: 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.