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Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes Hardcover – December 10, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Recipe Excerpts from Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman

From the Inside Flap

When Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread was first published in 2004, it received the Julia Child Award for best First Book and became an instant classic. In this updated edition, Hamelman covers the gradual evolution of the craft, adding 40 new recipes and incorporating the important technique of hand mixing.

Hamelman, a professional baker for more than three decades, was a member and captain of Baking Team USA, which represents the United States in the international Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, the World Cup of bread baking. Here, he shares this experience while putting world-class artisanal loaves within reach of any serious baker. Opening with a comprehensive overview of the foundations—essential ingredients; hand techniques for kneading, scoring, and shaping; and the basic process from mixing through baking—he guides bakers through all the elements of this richly rewarding craft.

Bread contains 140 detailed, step-by-step recipes for a vast array of breads—versatile sourdough ryes; numerous breads made with pre-ferments; and simple, straight dough loaves. Recipes for brioche, focaccia, pizza dough, flat breads, and other traditional staples augment the diverse collection of flavors, tastes, and textures. You will discover a bread for every season and every palate, including recipes new to this edition, many for underappreciated delights like Swiss Farmhouse Bread, German Farmer's Bread, and Baguettes de Tradition.

Each recipe clearly outlines the key stages, with easy-to-use charts that list ingredients in both American and metric measures, quantities appropriate for home baking, and baker's percentages. Hundreds of drawings vividly illustrate techniques, and handsome color photographs display finished breads. Sidebars accompany each recipe and section with valuable tips, from the subtle art of tasting and evaluating breads to the perfect fare to complement Vollkornbrot. A complete chapter on decorative breads—with instructions on techniques as well as a wide variety of exquisite patterns—will inspire magnificent display creations.

Laced throughout the book, Hamelman's personal narrative offers a compelling portrait of a lifelong love affair with bread and vividly communicates the passion he shares with so many other bakers. For those seeking to share a dialog with a real master, Bread is a resource that you will use time and time again.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 2 edition (December 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118132718
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118132715
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an experienced home baker, this is the only book I've chosen to buy. I absolutely wouldn't say it's the be-all-and-end-all of baking; it's no "bread bible". But for the types of European breads I happen to like, it's the perfect book.
There are no gimmicks here. Hamelman doesn't have some new method with each book (like Reinhart), he doesn't hold your hand (like Barenbaum). Just good core formulas and practical baking techniques. The critics are all correct when they note: the mixing times are for professional bakers and you have to double them for home; the moisture content can be off at home; the flour protein is not specified; you have to scale down for home use with a calculator; general hints are hidden in obscure places rather than highlighted for general use. He also leaves out many hand-holding steps he assumes you know. In other words, you pretty much have to make each of his recipes your own. That alone is why I can't recommend this book to the average home baker, especially a beginner. (Berenbaum's Bread Bible much better for beginner's.)
But for the experienced home baker who already knows their way around dough feel, knows how to adjust hydration. salt, and yeast and sourdough fermentation times, this book is rock solid. Many classic formulas here, and once you get his thinking you can extrapolate many more.
Most of the people I know who love this book end up adapting the recipes to their own tastes. In other words, Hamelman gives you an excellent starting point for many classic European breads. That is why I bought it. I have tons of recipes on my harddrive, but for a paper volume this was it.
It's important to note Hamelman's training and tastes lean heavily toward German breads.
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By Rick on December 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The other day, I read a review on another web site which concluded that the Amazon reviewers who criticized the first edition were largely inexperienced home bakers incapable of appreciating recipes by a certified master baker. Thus, I trust prospective customers will realize the necessity for sufficient critique.

Commercial bakers are the primary audience of this book, although there has been an attempt to enlarge its scope to include home bakers. I purchased the first edition in 2010 through Amazon, and my review of the first edition is still extant. I'd been baking for about ten years at the time of my first purchase, and I wanted to take my ability to a new level. Because there are some important omissions in the first edition, I later purchased the second edition hoping that I would find it improved.

Let's begin with the first oversight: flour protein level. Early in the book, Hamelman writes, "When working with any bread formula, it is important to know what kind of flour is used, and its protein level. When making substitutions or when trying out new flours, adjustments in hydration are very often necessary" (p. 34). That sounds good enough, except by the time the recipes begin in chapter 4 (about 90 pages into the book), he has not ever stated what to use. So, the home baker wants to jump in and make some recipes--and they have to guess. I love the clarity with which Nancy Silverton writes in her section on white flour, "The white flour I use at the moment is blended from hard winter wheat and dark hard northern spring wheat, and has a protein content of 12.5 percent" (Breads from the La Brea Baker, p. 6). Rose Levy Beranbaum even provides the "Approximate Range of Protein in Nationally Available Flours" on p.
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Format: Hardcover
I've only been baking bread for a short while but very quickly learned that leavened bread is a different beast than anything I've cooked before. There is a lot to learn and many ways you can make yourself an unimpressive bread. If you want to gain an understanding of all that happens when you create a loaf you need some good education. This book fits the bill. I also have Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice which is great but doesn't go as deeply into the science, mechanics, etc. of working with yeasted dough as Bread. Both books are great though.

If you are serious about getting into bread you should also check out some online resources like blogs and forums (The Fresh Loaf being my personal favorite). Once you start baking you'll be amazed at how many questions you have.

One complaint though: Home recipes aren't given in metric!
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Format: Hardcover
First thing: I took a pass on this book when it first came out. I was on a baking book kick at the time ('03-'04) and figured that it would be redundant with the The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, a great book in its own right, so I'm coming at this with more or less fresh eyes and no experience with the first edition.

First off... any of the reviews you've read that say that this is a must read? Yes, yes it is. Hamelman is about on the same level as Peter Reinhart for expertise, and barely half a step below the great Raymond Calvel, so you know this is going to be good. Recipes come in both home and commercial quantity; although metric measurements are only available for the commercial sizes, the presence of baker's percentage makes up for it handily. There is a respectably large amount of technical material, including an entire chapter on braiding dough (apparently whole books exist on that one subject). Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, there isn't as much discussion of ingredients as you'd expect; it's there, but Hamelman is more focused on technique and baking science and integrates ingredient discussions into the flow of the book rather than setting them off in one reference section. (There's an extensive bibliography, so you at least know where to go to find the information he doesn't give.)

The book is biased a bit towards western and northern European bread; American breads like Pullman white and Jewish deli rye aren't ignored, but you still have to brave the mountains of half-informed gibberish in
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