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The River Cottage Bread Handbook Hardcover – June 15, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
—Everyday Food, Favorite New Cookbooks, December 2010
"Stevens's accessible take on the subject is sure to inspire confidence, an appreciation for the craft, and a willingness to experiment."
—Publishers Weekly STARRED review, 8/23/10
“A remarkably compact, glove box-friendly guidebook to baking. . . . A bread survival book. . . . The River Cottage Bread Handbook is a refreshing change from so many American cookbooks that magically transform copious recipes into 12 easy steps and still promise fail-proof recipes.”
—LA Weekly, 8/11/10
“Be prepared to make space on your cookbook shelf for these practical, passionate guides. . . . Stevens lays down a bread-making foundation with an in-depth introduction (and full-color step-by-step photos), then proceeds to help readers perfect their skills in his witty, conversational style.”
“These compact yet comprehensive hardcover volumes, part of a series written by experts in the River Cottage fold, inspire and instruct with their English charm, deploying a chatty hand-holding that nudges you through the process. The head River Cottage baker, Daniel Stevens, who put together THE RIVER COTTAGE BREAD HANDBOOK spends over 40 pages on mastering the basic loaf. His kneading explanation was so clear I didn’t need to constantly refer to the photos; and it taught me some new tricks. . . .This wide-ranging book inspires exploration, and not just because I’ll soon be able to slather my warm Scottish oatcakes, roti and even bagels with my own jam, thanks to THE RIVER COTTAGE PRESERVES HANDBOOK. Here Pam Corbin, who runs the Preserving Days at River Cottage, explains the fundamentals of jam, jelly, chutney, cordials, pickles, sauces and more in a demystifying manner. . . . Recipes for hearty ale chutney, spring rhubarb relish and Hugh’s prizewinning raspberry fridge jam are within delicious reach.”
—NY Times Book Review, Summer Reading Issue, Cookbook Roundup, 6/6/10
“This book is not only beautiful and inspiring but it also adds new bread-making ideas and formulas to the lexicon. It definitely goes on my ‘must-have’ bread shelf.”
—Peter Reinhart, author of the James Beard and IACP Cookbook of the Year, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is a small size about 8"x5", the pages are heavy so you will need to weight it down in order to keep your place while cooking. Despite the smaller page size the print is easy to read. There are plenty of pictures, both of techniques, dough and finished bread products. The introduction is interesting, telling why mass made machine bread is bad for you. Baking equipment needed is described.
The recipes themselves are given with weight, grams and ounces - this originally is an English cookbook, but has been `translated' in `American'. There is a section on wild yeast, basically what Americans call sourdough - making your own yeast.
The many breads from different cultures are probably too ambitious for a beginning cook, but would be interesting to try none the less if they are adventuresome; including roti - bread from India and Nepal, tortillas and crackers. A section is included on what to do with left over bread and even how to build your own clay oven.
This is not the ordinary bread book, it would seem to be for someone looking for a bit of venturesome baking.
I've have had baking classes but never really "got" the whole bread-making process. Wish I had paid better attention in culinary school now that this allergy is wreaking havoc and I have to bake my own breads.
Enter "The River Cottage Bread Handbook". I read through it in less than an hour, and got going on a sour dough starter right away. I didn't want to wait that long for bread, so I started with the walnut honey bread. Oh My God - it was delicious. I've also used Stevens' scones recipe and, while it was much different than my go-to recipe - Stevens' is more tender and flaky than a typical American scone - it was out of this world.
I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who is deathly afraid of yeast breads. You have to approach these recipes with a sense of confidence. However, once you can grasp Baker's Percentage and feel a little adventurous, you'll be SO glad you bought this book. The illustrations are beautiful, and Stevens' sense of humor is truly appreciated.
The basic recipe that can be altered at will was a great way to introduce creativity into baking, something I've always thought of as quite rigid. I have made almost 10 batches of bread (30 loaves!) now using the basic recipe and I'm having a blast! It's wonderful to see, feel and taste the difference one ingredient can make. I'm also gaining great confidence in my ability to "do it right" and yet be creative. From this book I now understand what the dough should "feel" like, how the yeast should smell and what happened when my first loaves came out too chewy.
I've also made the breadsticks, foccacia and, this evening, the bagels. All of the recipes were straight-forward and easy to follow - especially after taking the time to read the book cover-to-cover. My family is thrilled with my new hobby and so am I. This book is great. I recommend it for everyone, especially beginners.
I have several other bread books and have made bread frequently in the last year or so and have found some better than others at depicting the steps and ingredients. Although I haven't made anything from Stevens' book yet, I plan to have fun with it on my next kitchen adventures. He's got a nice sense of humor (see pic# 3 on page 47 of trying to windowpane a rye bread)and has gone to great lengths to lay the book out intelligently without repeating the instructions for the basics each time.
The point made in a previous reviewer's comments about it confusing the issue of using a baking tray or stone is one such issue. On page 53 "Preparing for baking" he gives you an option of using a baking sheet or a stone. He instructs you to pre-heat the baking sheet if you're going that route. Later in the recipes when it comes to that point, he simply reminds you to get it out of the oven now because it's about time to hoist that baby onto it and get it back in the oven to bake.
He covers a number of breads, yeasted, un-yeasted, baked in the oven or on a grill or flat griddle, and most unique, he provides details and pictures on building a clay oven out in your backyard--there's another great adventure that lies ahead!
Last but not least, it's in a nice format--just like your old English grammar handbooks, and the pages are printed on almost card stock quality paper.
I'm giving it a 4 because of the things I learned from it, the entertainment he provided, and his encouragement to go on not only the bread adventure but also the clay oven adventure. If I make his breads and they are wonderful, I'll come back and give it a 5!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
answered my questions re bread making, providing ongoing reading to make further improvements.Published 6 months ago by dianne frost
Great resource for beginning bread makers and moderately experienced amateurs. They do a good job of balancing idealism with practicality, and it never comes off as preachy. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Schuur451
A good bread baking book, but their methods are not the only ones that will produce good bread. It is worth trying if you have the time. Lots of good recipes.Published 15 months ago by KH
We got this book a few years ago and every recipe definitely seems to be 'off' in some way. It seems the conversion from weights to volume ( UK to US ) seems to have made a lot of... Read morePublished 17 months ago by J. Anderson
Fantastic!!! A great book for anyone who wants to make homemade bread. :)Published 18 months ago by Louise Atkin
I want to build an outdoor oven. This book has a detailed plan to do so. Recipes are also good. I found this when I was overseas last year. Loved by its owner.Published 20 months ago by Caryl