Customer Reviews: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook: A Master Baker's 300 Favorite Recipes for Perfect-Every-Time Bread-From Every Kind of Machine
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on August 17, 2002
I bought this book last Christmas after receiving a machine for a gift. I made a few recipes from the owner's manual and experienced quite a few flops. I refused to be defeated and knew there must be a book out there that would help me make good bread (with the machine that I had begged for). THIS is the book!
I read all the reviews that precede 2002 and got the book right away. I love the way Hensperger explains ingredients, the science of bread and how the machine works. We use our machine at least 3-4 times a week. Some of my favorites from the book include the Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns (I will never buy storebought again!), the Garlic Foccacia, the Orange Bread with White Chocolate, Apricots and Walnuts, and for sandwiches my family loves the Instant Potato Bread and the Maple Buttermilk Bread, both of which turn out light and fluffly.
I remember reading a review that discussed the different ways to measure flour. For some reason, if I do it Hensperger's way, I always have to add more flour. So, I just scoop it without aerating the flour first.
Another review mentioned that you "have to" use SAF yeast. I haven't found this to be true. I have used the SAF, but have also used fast-acting and bread machine yeast. Both have turned out fine. All of the ingredients have been at a local supermarket (I live in a small town - 23,000, on the Central Coast of CA) except the specialty flours like barley, spelt, semolina, etc. Those I have found at a health-food store.
I can't say enough good things about this book! My copy is tattered and stained and I am enjoying working my way through all the recipes. It is a book I definitely can't live without
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on June 24, 2005
I am a fan of Beth Hensperger's, and have baked my way through others of her bread books, and so was very excited when I discovered this book. Several of the breads I have made have been fantastic -- the Whole Wheat Cuban Bread and the Spelt Bread, for example. But I've had many problems when baking from this book (I bake twice weekly, and experiment once a week), which suggests that some of the recipes weren't tested, they were just "written" or adapted from convetional recipes. I'll mention two, the Honey Wheat Berry Bread and the Sennebeck Hill Bread. If you follow the instructions for the 2-pound loaf, in both cases, you'll have a bread that will rise way beyond the capacity of the largest machine -- I have a Zo, with a huge capacity. I was lucky enough to be in the kitchen at the time, and rescued the breads by taking the pan out, putting a greased heavy duty aluminum collar around the baking pan, secured with paper clips, and baking in the oven. That's not what I expect from someone as skilled as Hensperger. And I don't want to have to be in the kitchen when using a bread machine. So be forewarned.
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VINE VOICEon November 16, 2008
Baking is my thing, even though I must cook everyday foods to survive. Because I have limited shelf space, and because I want to simplify my life, I only keep those cookbooks I use and treasure. This is one of those books. I love the recipes in this book!! They are accurate and produce consistent results. If you like glossy pictures in your cookbooks then this book is not for you, but if you want easy and tasty recipes then this is the best book in the market.
In reading some of the negative reviews I would like to comment that perhaps the fault does not lie in the recipes, but in the cook. Successful baking requires quality ingredients, careful measuring and correct temperature. Of all the ingredients used in bread baking the most important is of course the flour. Not all flours are created equal, they vary in protein content and moisture. Protein helps give structure to the dough, a soft spring wheat, low protein, flour (White Lily, Wondra) is good for cakes, a high protein winter wheat flour (most bread flours) is good for breads. The moisture content of the flour determines the amount of liquid to be added to the recipe. I have found Gold Medal and Pillsbury flours have a higher moisture content than other flours and require slightly less liquid. So try the same recipes using a different flour, and check the dough before the machine goes into the bake cycle and adjust accordingly..... too wet, add flour; too dry, add liquid. Lastly, always use the same brand of flour and learn to work with it. I use King Arthur flour exclusively for consistent results.
I know some of the info in this review is not necessarily about the book in question, but the info may be helpful to someone having difficulty in achieving consistent results in the baking process.
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on January 17, 2001
I received this book for Christmas, and have been having lots of fun with it. I first made a country-style bread that combined whole wheat and bread flours with a touch of maple syrup, and it was yummy. I'll be trying one of the Italian semolina bread recipes this weekend for an Italian dinner party. But my favorite so far has been the Vienna bread. It is best while still warm from the machine (slathered with butter, if you're feeling naughty). It is fairly dense for a white bread, makes great sandwiches, and keeps well for several days. I haven't yet tried any of the biga (starter) breads, but I am looking forward to them. I wish the book contained a cinnamon-raisin bread recipe that was *not* gluten-free; I'll have to improvise.
The instructions in this book are clear and very easy to follow. I also appreciate knowing which recipes are suitable for use with the delay timer. While some ingredients are hard to find, plenty of the recipes call for readily available items. I've discovered that the vital wheat gluten required in most recipes is available at my local Safeway, as are Red Star yeast and semolina flour.
The fact that vital wheat gluten is *not* the same as wheat gluten flour is mentioned in the book, but not emphasized strongly enough. Also, I have to remember to add salt along with the liquid ingredients, although the recipes list salt with the dry ingredients, because my bread machine manual states that salt can interfere with the action of the yeast if it comes in contact with the yeast too early. Perhaps this is a possibility unique to my machine (a Breadman Ultimate). I agree with an earlier poster who complained that recipes using the Dough cycle (for breads to be baked in an oven) call for unplugging the machine at the completion of the cycle; this seems unnecessary.
Overall, I am pleased with and inspired by this book, which contains a great amount of useful information and a slew of easy and delicious-sounding recipes! Thanks, Beth!
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VINE VOICEon January 17, 2007
I have been a bread machine user since the very first models came out ages ago. I make bread now, more than ever. This is the first book I turn to for creative, delicious recipes, and troubleshooting. I am a mile high above sea level, and after we moved here, I thought I would never make bread again. The altitude was causing my bread to be disastrous.

I first got this book from the library, and checked it out for about 12 weeks. I successfully tried several of the recipes in the book, and my passion for bread was ignited again! I bought my own copy to have forever. Beth takes all the problems and guess work out of bread making, at any altitude. I even contacted her about a baking question, and she answered me within 1/2 hour. How's that for service?

The recipes are delicious and rewarding to make. There is only one recipe that I would warn about. It is the one with the crushed sugar cubes. Mixing the recipe as listed damaged some of the non stick on my bread pan and paddles. (I am a freak about keeping things nice, so this was really a downer.) I would change the recipe to making the dough in the pan, sans the cubes,knead them in by hand before the last rise, and then bake the loaf in the regular oven. This will protect your pan, and you will still have that wonderful bread.

I have a lot of bread making books, and bread machine books. If you are only going to have one, make it this one. If you have more, get this one anyway! You will use it more than the rest! It is comprehensive, and will satisfy just about any bread baker out there. I hope you try it and like it as much as I do. Blessings!
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on May 16, 2006
I am a working mom but I love to cook and I love good food. My husband is European and won't eat American store-bought bread, so I got my first bread maker shortly after we were married almost 16 years ago. I got this book quite a few years ago and I've opened it about once a week since (about how often I make bread). I've made more than half of the recipes in the book, and they are all wonderful. I really couldn't live without it.

However, as others have said, the whole wheat recipes are generally not quite that. Only one or two of the WW recipes are 100%. The others have half to 3/4 white flour. The author explains why - she doesn't feel that you get a "satisfactory" result with the whole wheat flour, and she adds a lot of extra gluten to these recipes.

However some of us really like the dense 100% whole wheat(or other grain) breads. I wish that there were a companion volume dedicated just to whole grains. I learned so much about machine bread baking from this book - now I want to learn just as much about machine bread making with 100% whole grains.

I'd really like to understand the properties of the other bread-grains better, as well.
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on August 15, 2006
I absolutely LOVE this book!! Buy-it-a-ring-march-it-down-the-aisle love it!! I'm one of those people with more cookbooks than I shake a whisk at and I go to this one over and over and over! It has everything! I've never had a loaf go wrong and every recipe I've tried is just delicious.

To start with, the Roman Bread alone (p. 409) is worth the price of the book! The granola bread, the blueberry coffee cake, Mexican chocolate bread, brioche rolls...I could go on and on!! It has everything from the simplest white and wheat to unique breads using exotic grains and interesting nuts, fruits and herbs (persimmon bread, lavender rosemary bread). It's made me a better baker because there are so many notes on the science of how bread "works". And it's not just bread - if you could make pot roast in a bread machine this book would tell you how to do it! There are jam recipes, quick bread recipes and recipes for using the leftover bits. There are pizza and calzone recipes that include the toppings, not just the dough. The Cheese Pizza Torte is amazing!

I love my bread machine but I'm not the biggest fan of the shape of the pan, so I often use the dough recipes and then proof the bread and bake it in a regular pan. Many of the recipes for country loaves have you do that anyway for a more authentic loaf.

My husband bought me the book as a Christmas present when I was 4 months pregnant. Here it is August and the bread machine hasn't gone back into the cupboard yet! It's a miracle our daughter wasn't born weighing 17 pounds! Forget whatever companion book Amazon recommends with this book - buy the latest Billy Blanks or Kathy Smith video (or both!) - you'll be eating A LOT of bread if you get this book!
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I have ordered several bread machine cookbooks on Amazon since we are baking more bread than I've ever eaten in my life lately. Dr. Atkins would hate my family right now with all the carbs we are enjoying.

That said, some are great, some fall flat...then some you go to almost every time you make a loaf.

This is the one I enjoy the most.

I was shocked when the book arrived because it's huge...full of recipes! Because of that, regarless of your taste, you should expect to have more than enough choices...even if you wanted to cook a loaf a day.

And quite frankly, we kinda love making a different kind every day.Especially if you have a special diet and want to alter bread recipes in your own you can.

Here are some examples:
Butter Bread and loads of other white breads
Sour Cream Bread
Whole Wheat Cuban Bread
Coconut Milk White Bread
Honey White Bread
Honey Wheat Bread and loads of other whole grain breads
Jewish Egg Bread
Swiss Egg Bread
Tomato Bread
Sweet Potato Bread
Zucchini Bread
Applesauce Bread
Cottage Cheese Breads
Ricotta and Chive Bread
Green Chile Bread
Black Olive Bread
Balsamic Caramelized Onion Bread
Sunflower Oatmeal Bread
Toasted Walnut Bread
Pecan Raisin Bread
OLive Oil Pine Nut Bread
Beer Bread
California Nut Bread
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Hot Jalapeno Bread with Longhorn Cheese
Beer Bread with Cheddar
Roquefort Cheese Bread with Walnuts
or get creative with your flours for a chance of pace like chickpea flour, graham flour (OMG! I love this loaf! It's like the taste of wheat with a lighter texture and creaminess...I LOVE that one.)
recipes for great pizzas making dough such as cheese pizza, caramelized onion and gorgonzola pizza,, mediterranean pizza, etc
and all kinds of pizza doughs from white to wheat to cornmeal, etc.
there is a whole chapter on gluten-free breads
Did you know you can make pasta dough in your bread machine? Neither did I. There is a whole chapter on it. You'll never go back.
Out of yeast? There is a chapter on no-yeast quick breads.
Like your bread with jelly or jam? A chapter on how to make them IN your bread machine.

and all kinds of rolls, shaped breads, cinnamon rolls cakes, stuffings, foccacias, pita bread, pretzels...

I wanted to give a clear picture by listing some ideas but let's face it, there are almost 700 pages of recipes for which you can use your bread maker. That may seem like a longish list but it's small in comparison!

I have yet to have any loaf not work. (Incidentally if you ever continue to have bad loaves check the freshness of your ingredients. I had a friend complain about her bread maker and she had old yeast, old baking soda, old baking powder. Bought new and all loaves were perfect! They do matter.)

Know going in: These recipes typically call for wheat gluten. Although my regular grocery doesn't carry it, I order mine dirt cheap on Amazon and it's worth it. We now use it in ALL recipes regardless of really improves the taste and texture even if you thought nothing was missing before.

Most recipes have the ingredients for a 1.5 pound and a 2 pound loaf. A few are just for a 1.5 pound loaf but work just fine in my 2 pound loaf machine.

Negatives: Maybe it would be too time consuming to do for such a huge book, but I really appreciate that one of my other favorite bread machine cookbooks includes the nutritionals for each loaf/slice including the calorie count. That may not matter to everyone but I do like an overview of what I'm taking in. For those who need photos, there aren't any here, although there are drawings. That doesn't matter to me so much especially since all breads are so similar but I know many like cookbooks with photos.

Conclusion: I think it's a must have to add variety to your sandwiches and bread routine. You could get by with just this one cookbook for your bread maker and be happy with the endless recipes I think. Wish they had nutritionals but I forgive them that due to the long length of the book already...but maybe in a revised edition at the bottom of each page??
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on February 13, 2001
I bought this book because I read the reviews written by other customers and they were overall very good. So far I've made 3 recipes from the book - a flax seed bread, beer bread and a whole wheat bread - and they've all turned out amazingly well. I was resigned to the "fact" that bread machine bread was more dense than grocery store bread - until I tried these recipes. The bread is light and moist and the crust is crispy and delicious. I haven't bought the SAF yeast, I'm using regular bread machine yeast but it doesn't seem to matter. I admit - because I'm from Canada, apparently our flour is different from US flour - that I modify the recipes a bit - reducing the flour by 1/8 to 1/4 cup. I've also found that I can reduce the amount of sugar and fat called for in the recipes and still have excellent results.
This book is wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone with a bit of knowledge of baking and a desire to spend some time with their bread machines.
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on July 14, 2009
I'm a bread junkie... I'm really enjoying using this cookbook. I bought it about a year ago along with the Gold Standard for bread machine recipes Bread Machine Magic, Revised Edition: 138 Exciting Recipes Created Especially for Use in All Types of Bread Machines but more & more I'm finding myself using this one over the other. My only pet peeve would be it doesn't have the option for 1 lb loafs and that's only because it's just me & my husband so smaller loaves get eaten faster.
I'm particularly fond of the "Country Breads and Sourdough Breads" section which is full of recipes using different kinds of bread starters (e.g. biga, levain, pate fermentee, poolish - mixture of flour, water & yeast that you let ferment over period of 8 to 10 hours right on the kitchen counter in your bread machine). I've never heard these terms before but let me tell you, the final product is absolutely worth the extended baking time. They are "dead-gone-to-heaven" delicious...
Another section that I find myself using a lot this summer is the "Jam, Preserves & Chutneys". The recipes for small batches of jams are just right for my small family and I'm more than happy with the results. A few of the recipes have sort of a "secret" ingredient that makes the jam stand out - like Creme de Cassis in the Blueberry Jam or dried apricots in the Rhubarb Jam. My favorite so far... Kiwifruit Jam served on a hardy Rye Bread toast.
This bread machine cookbook definitely deserves a spot on your book shelf.
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