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The Best Bread Ever: Great Homemade Bread Using your Food Processor Hardcover – November 3, 1997

56 customer reviews

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In Essential Emeril, the iconic chef goes back to basics, presenting more than 130 recipes that defined his award-winning career, each tested and perfected for today's home cook. Learn more | See more by Emeril Lagasse

Editorial Reviews Review

According to Charles Van Over, a food processor, an instant-read thermometer, and a baking stone are the only equipment essential to making the best bread you will ever eat. You also have to be willing to make a leap of faith, following his precise method meticulously: the bread dough must be made in a food processor that is run for exactly 45 seconds, and you have to use flour and water that produce dough with a temperature of 75-80° Fahrenheit. Check the book for the other six rules of Van Over's system and see if you agree that the results are stunningly good.

To assure clarity, the recipes provide U.S. measures by volume and weight as well as by metric measures. This versatility makes the book transportable around the globe, though its recipes are designed to work with American flour and other ingredients. The type is large and easy-to-read, which is most helpful when following the many steps involved in making bread. Color photos provide inspiration, while progressive shots in black and white demonstrate important steps in some of the recipes. You'll find directions for making bagels, sourdough, and breads enriched with milk, butter, or eggs, including Alsatian Kugelhopf and Cheddar Pepper Brioche with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, as well as Van Over's baguette, Semolina Bread, and a Presentation Loaf that is specially inscribed or decorated. If you have ever made bread with poor results, The Best Bread Ever will help you break through to the results you dream of.

From the Publisher

"This will give those unfortunate millions who do not live within whiffing distance of Charlie van Over's kitchen a taste of the real thing. For some years now I have been trading commodities such as wine, caviar, and rare spices from the East for a few crusts of his truly wonderful bread. Everyone eats bread--but anyone who really cares about what they eat will want this book."
--Morley Safer, 60 Minutes

"I have been addicted to Charlie van Over's wondrous bread for twenty years and, as a restaurant critic, his baguettes have been the touchstone by which all others are judged."
--Bryan Miller, former New York Times restaurant critic

"Charlie van Over's bread technique has changed my life--making bread has become an easy, enjoyable routine, and my bread has become the best in town."
--Mark Bittman, award-winning author of Fish

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st edition (November 3, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767900324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767900324
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 7.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Mayer Goldberg on October 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Three reasons to get this book:
- Technique
- Information
- Recipes
TECHNIQUE Technique is what got me: I've been baking breads at home for years. It's fun, the results are pleasing and well-received by friends and guests. But making bread at home has always been time consuming for me because of the lack of a professional mixer. This point is worth discussing here: If you want to knead bread without working hard and without making a mess, you need a professional mixer. Some home mixers or even hand mixers come with dough hooks, but don't be deceived: Very few home mixers are powerful enough to knead bread dough, and those that are are very expensive. There is no ordinary garden veriety cheap mixer that can knead bread dough. Period. Trust me on this one, and you won't burn your mixer's motor and burn your money as well. So you either knead dough by hand, which is time consuming and hard work, or you get this [rather inexpensive] book and learn the technique of using your ordinary food processor to do the job. Food processors work differently from mixers, and even a cheap food processor is powerful enough to knead bread dough using the technique described in the book. I should know -- I bought my food processor over 8 years ago for about US$40 in a supermaket... It's old and it's so weak that a fresh carrot could make it stick and halt. But I've been making batches and batches of great bread dough with it and so far it's been great.
If you are careful with the water and learn to add it gradually, you can actually eliminate measurements: You keep adding water gradually until the ball of dough is formed. If you go over a bit, just add a spoon of flour to try out the batch. It's quick, it's painless, and you can have perfect bread dough in under 1 minute (!).
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 8, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who is still mixing and kneading bread the traditional way is obviously doing it for some other reason than the quality of the bread. This book makes breadmaking so easy that a novice can turn out perfect baguettes and European breads by following the steps in each recipe. Even after 20+ years of baking, this is truly the best bread I've ever made. The explanations are precise, easy to follow, and have been adapted to different kinds of food processors. I bought the book for the recipes, but the first fifty pages of text were fascinating and essential to learning this new and exciting method of the ancient craft of breadmaking. You definitely want this book in your cooking library.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would not have purchased this book, based upon the method described. I didn't believe it would work. However, after reading the customer reviews, I took a chance. I am glad I did, although the initial scepticism was borne out. The techniques described will produce acceptable to good baguettes. However, once you move on to loaves, you will be in trouble. The recipes are fine, but for really good results I found, through trial and error, that nothing compares to mixing the ingredients in the food processor just long enough for them to be combined, then (preferably after covering and waiting for 5-10 mins), putting the dough into a standing mixer with the dough hook for 3.5 to 4.0 minutes. The resulting dough is far superior to anything else I have tried and there is no comparison to the dough produced using just the food processor. (Shirley Corriher "Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking" also gave up on food processors as the sole mixer and I agree).

The only other suggestion is that if your kitchen is 20C (68F) or less, you will need to add to the proving time.

Don't be put off by these remarks. The recipes are very good, with the above qualifications.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 1997
Format: Hardcover
If you've never baked a loaf of bread or if you are an avid baker, this is the book for you. Charlie Van Over's "The Best Bread Book Ever" will teach you a bread baking technique that will add pleasure and taste to all your efforts. The use of a food processor as a kneading tool is not new, but his specific method is. Based on long years of experience, Van Over has developed such a precise process, you can only succeed. You will get bread that is more tasty, dough that is friendly to work with, and raves from your eating audience. I have tried numbers of baguette recipes, including the one I learned at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and his outstrips them all. The pizza dough is perfect (better than just best!); because he provides instructions from start to finish, you can serve up a pizza that will make you pause before ever ordering out again. The book includes a wide range of recipes, including a lovely feta and herb focaccia, a rich, delicious brioche with variations, and several sourdough breads. (Unlike some intimidating starter recipes, his is both simple and effective.) Happily, your own favorites are adaptable to his technique. Importantly, his writing style gives you the eerie and pleasant feeling that he is right by your side as you measure the ingredients, pulse the food processor, shape the dough, and slide it onto the baking stone. Bake and'll have a great time with Charlie!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has traveled or lived in Europe for any length of time despairs upon returning to the States with its paucity of true high-quality food which Europeans take for granted. High on the list of longed-for foodstuffs is great bread. Even the so-called "french" bakeries have learned that they can define down their efforts (and increase their profits) for the American palate and still command upwards of $3.00 for a bland baguette or flavorless focaccia. Thanks to Charlie Van Over, at least for high-quality, low-cost bread, we need despair no longer! His method absolutely takes the guesswork out of breadmaking and you will not believe the beautiful, utterly delicious breads which you will produce with so little effort! The aroma that will fill your house as this incredible bread bakes is worth the price of the book alone. I recommend getting a starter going immediately as this is the key ingredient in a truly flavorful french-style baguette. The starter also can be used to improve the flavor of nearly any bread you bake. And as other bakers have recommended, let time be your ally. I make the dough in the evening (takes about 10 minutes from start to finish), do the first rise, then put it in the refrigerator for up to three days, baking at my convenience. Time does equal taste, as Mr. Van Over says, but it is "free time" in which the Method works, not you!
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