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For everyone who wants to make wonderful, hearty, delicious breads of all kinds, turn to the bread expert, James Beard. Step-by-step, with detailed, understandable instructions, this is the book and the author who are going to turn you into an expert bread baker.
Beard on Bread is a unique bread cookbook. Written before the food craze began, it was written in part, to help home cooks duplicate the bread that their mothers and grandmothers made. To this end it gets home cooks back in touch with the miracle of yeast, the smell of bread dough and the sheer joy of making bread. Beard begins with what we used to think of as "plain" bread and moves on to a wide range of multigrain breads, sweet breads and breads that are traditionally American.
Though it has drawbacks I love this cookbook, and, over the last thirty years, have made every recipe in it.
What's best about this cookbook, and what makes it irreplacebable is this:
1. Tested recipes with excellent introductions. Beard on Bread was written after James Beard spent hours and hours working with dough and writing down what he thought. The recipes are introduced with his take on each. Some of the recipes come from other cookbooks, and their authorship is attributed. (How refreshing!) Beard tells you when he considers a recipe experimental, and when he is not terribly enthusiastic about the type of bread (sourdough). He also tells you when to go look at a different cookbook. His recipe for french bread is "french style" and tells the reader to consult Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, if a more authentic version is desired.
2. Clear instuctions and illustrations. If you begin with the introduction of this book, you will get a very good idea of how to make a basic loaf, and go from there. Kneading is illustrated, and there are illustrations of the loaf pans you will need.
3. A progression of difficulty. Beard begins with recipes he believes are easiest to master and progresses from there.Read more ›
O.K., the bread produced by your soulless bread machine tastes just fine and you have learned some techniques for disguising it's tell-tale tank shape. But haven't you wondered what it would be like to get you hands in the dough? To change and rearrange things a little for variety every now and then? To smell the yeast as it proofs? To experiment with different flours and additives? To pull dried dough from the hairs on the back of your hand for several hours after a session of bread baking? Let James Beard lead you through the joys of making real bread with you in command--not according to the programmed instruction of some microchip with less RAM than you had on your desktop in 1982. Beard's book is an excellent guide to some great breads. He offers a good basic white bread recipe for your first loaf. It is easy and it makes a single loaf. Thus, you get to learn the art of proofing yeast, kneading, and following basic instructions before you invest in exotic flours, herbs, baking pans, etc. I have especially enjoyed the classic Graham bread and the Maryetta's oatmeal bread recipes. The latter can be easily converted to a raisin bread with a little cinnamon, raisins and granulated sugar rolled into the dough before baking. You can really take these recipes and ad lib a little after you learn what you are doing. And, the Graham bread: third time's a charm. Just remember that the baking time is additive: ten minutes at 425 degrees then another 30 to 35 minutes at 350. It's not clear from his text and my first batch was a little chewier than I would have liked. But, fully cooked, this bread is a show stopper when company comes. You can begin to appreciated bread as the staff of life with hearty breads like this one. Try the great yeast-leavened buckwheat pancakes.Read more ›
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`Beard on Bread' is one volume of a series on specific culinary topics by leading American culinary writer, James Beard. While fellow experts who knew him such as James Villas attribute Beard with an encyclopedic knowledge of food, he was not particularly an expert on bread. So, what we get in this book is an excellent selection of recipes covering a wide range of uses and techniques, but without the depth of understanding about breadbaking and its techniques which you get in books from Peter Reinhart, Nancy Silverton, or Rose Levy Beranbaum. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Cookbooks full of relatively simple recipes from a very reliable source for a small list price are always valuable to a wide audience. And, if you are reading this review, the chances are good that this book is more appropriate to your needs than one of the bread books from those leading lights I cited above.
Dedications of books are generally relatively uninteresting, as they are most commonly made to close family members who had a lot to do with the author's surviving the experience of writing the book, but little to do with inspiration on the content of the book. This book's dedication is revealing, in that it is to the great English culinary writer, Elizabeth David, who, in addition to her famous books on the cuisine of France, Italy, and the Mediterranean, was the proud author of a superb book on English breads and baking. I am in the middle of reading that book now, and I am genuinely surprised that the book is not cited more than it is by other authors. It is a large book with really substantial sections on both the technology of bread baking and the history of bread baking in England.Read more ›
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